As early as the mid 1950’s the ‘go-to’ grocery store for many Hudson residents, especially those living on or near Lowell Road, was the Hudson Super Market owned and operated by Robert “Bob” and Doris Provencal. Hudson was a fast growing town and business expanded so that by September 1970 the Provencal family held the grand opening of The Hudson Super Duper as shown in this week’s first photo. This event included onsite broadcasting of a local radio station, door prize of 18 inch portable TV, and special sale prices from all departments within the store.
The story of The Hudson Super Market, The Super Duper, and later The Piggly Wiggly, is also the story of Bob and Doris Provencal and their family. It began as early as 1936. Bob, then 16, lived with his family a short distance from what would later become the Super Duper. Bob needed extra money to buy a car. He had the idea of making bleach water and selling it for .20 a gallon to neighbors and friends. His efforts were profitable enough so he could purchase his first car. At 18 he took over his father’s filling station in Hudson as a mechanic. Again he was successful and needed to hire extra people.
After our country became involved with World War II, Bob wanted to enlist in the Army. His classification made him not eligible. Wanting to do something to help, he closed the gas station and went to work at Fort Devens where he ran a dynamometer and tested White Engines. By 1945 he met and married Doris Ledoux, also of Hudson. Soon thereafter he resigned from Fort Devens and re-opened the gas station, hoping to settle in Hudson; but there was a lack of housing in town so they settled in Nashua while making plans for and building an apartment building in Hudson. The rent they received would help pay the mortgage plus they would have a place to live in Hudson. As things were looking bright for the young couple, they were saddened by the loss of their first born son at the age of 10 days.
For her own health Doris knew she should keep busy. She suggested they put an extension onto their house so she could open a small store. This they did, and Doris ran the store where she met people while Bob ran the business of his own across the street.They added a grill and soda fountain and the endeavor became an immediate success. When not busy in the station he would help Doris in the store. One could say ‘the rest is history’.
The Hudson Super Market was opened in October 1952. Business grew and the store was expanded. A few years later the family realized the existing store could not accommodate the growing demands. On September 2, 1970 the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hudson Super Duper took place. That same year Bob Provencal was named Grocer of the Year by The NH Grocers Association. Doris and Bob had a family of 2 sons (Greg and Donald) and 1 daughter (Charlene). The family grew up with the grocery business; and by 1970 Charlene was studying floral arrangement in Boston. She would later open her own Charlene’s Flower Shoppe nearby on Lowell Road. Donald was managing the frozen food department in the family store; and Greg was studying business in a local college.
By 1972 the Provencal family aligned their Super Duper Market with the Piggly Wiggly enterprise. This Super Market, along with Shop and Wash, and Richard Coiffures were located on Lowell Road, a major part of The Super Duper Shopping Center in Hudson.
By 1977 The Nashua Trust Company, which held the mortgage, foreclosed on the The Piggly Wiggly building. Two business remained there as tenants: Richard Coiffures and the Shop and Wash Laundromat and Dry Cleaners. In 1979 Nashua Trust announced its plans to build a new banking facility on this location and the two remaining tenants had to vacate. By 1980 construction was completed and The Nashua Trust moved from its location at 1 Derry Street to open its Hudson Community Banking Center at 71 Lowell Road. Since that time due to bank mergers and closures the Nashua Trust became The First NH Bank and later Citizens Bank. Our second photo shows this site in 2006 – home to Brooks Pharmacy, Citizens Bank, and Hudson Chamber of Commerce.
Both photos are from the Historical Society Collection. Much of the history of the Provencal family appeared in February 24, 1971 edition of The Hudson News.