If you have followed my blog over the years I am sure you have heard me talk of my little village, Pawlet, Vermont. Population of 1,477. 1 big peeling paint brick general store Mach's Store, 1 restaurant, 1 diner, 2 real estate guys, 1 post office, 1 lampshade maker, a holistic center, lots of dairy farms, a goat's cheese farm,several companies that move a lot of dirt around, builders, masons,bread makers, loggers, massage therapists and lots of other small home based businesses. As I type this I realize how many entrepreneurs there are in these hills of Southern Vermont.
The "down turn" of the economy has hit Vermont hard as well as Flood Irene coming though the center of this little, quaint and sort of authentically beat up village. Granted most of us don't want it too fancy like some of our neighboring towns, but a little paint on many buildings, mine included wouldn't hurt. New pavement came to town last summer--- a big darn deal and can't imagine the last time that happened. Cell service is sparce at best and fiber optic is just days away, maybe.
I was approached by JJ the general store owner mid March; he said the store was in troubled waters and concerned that it may not be able to stay open. Rumor flew around town, as happens in any small town. Put it this way, I can tell who some customers are just by the sound of their car... ha, ha. Especially those noisy diesel pick ups!
We had a meeting of local friends and brainstormed ideas and solutions. We all came with great ideas, many in the down the road category. We had to keep coming back to the immediate issue. How to raise capital for The General Store to remain open!
Again and again we had to keep coming back to this main concern in the immediate. Wow, somehow we landed on the front page of The Rutland Herald- a hard "get" on the best of days! Thank you, thank you!
We accomplished our first goal by having customers put $$ onto their local accounts to help get instant cash flow and by selling some inventory that had been collecting dust. Phew, onto goal #2, to fill up some of the bare shelves- the store isn't by any means bare, but the inventory of "general foods" had been depleted and not replaced. Bit by bit the store is making headway to more solid ground by re-evaluating to business practices and so on.
For phase #2 fundraising efforts we will be having several events in June, TBA soon. Yesterday we kicked off a crowd sourcing fund, Go Fund Me -This is the link to the site if you would like to help the cause! This site is super easy to use with your credit card; you don't need a paypal account and you can also donate without using your name if you wish.
I LOVE this old post card! There is a huge photo of these old fellas by the deli in the store! That was a few years ago!!!
You may wonder why one would donate to save a general store? A general store has a sense of place. It is where the kids picked up their green up day bags today, where the hunters came to weigh their turkeys today, where one would pick up their trash tickets--- these are things that DO NOT make them money or hardly any, but a SERVICE to US! Where the UPS guy can drop off your package if he can't make it up your icy road or where one finds out who's house burned down or god knows what.... jeez lousie, it the place we all to easy take for granted and would sure as hell be mad if a Dollar Store took over(no links...) Can you imagine the revolt!
Since I have had my shop in our village there has been, many owners of the store. Gib and Doreen, Steve and Kallie, Mike and Marilyn and now JJ and his daughters. It's a big job, long hours, little pay and the times of the general store are NOT over but are changing. Nothing worse than listening to a past owner of a business say... when I owned it I made a profit... thanks for that...as I recall all of them hovering over the books trying to figure out which bill to pay first in January!
Retail in general is changing, just ask me that! Almost 50% of my sales are online now! That's pretty amazing. Folks are particular how they eat... some don't eat wheat, some only eat organic, some eat local, some eat anything.... We hope to try to solve some of those issues to change to a new food world of LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL!
Thanks for reading about real life in a small village! If you wish to help the cause here is the link: Save The General Store.
almost packing time for Brimfield!