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Despite community rally to save it, country store is closing

FILE - This Dec. 18, 2015, photo shows the Underhill Country Store in Underhill, Vt. Less than a year after the community came together to save the store, the board of the cooperative formed to run it voted to close it after running out of money to keep the operation going. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke, File)
October 02, 2016 - 9:04 AM

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Less than a year ago, residents of a Vermont town banded together to try to save their country store, as much a social hub as a place to pick up staples, a coffee or sandwich. Now, despite their efforts, the Underhill Country Co-op is closing.

The board of the co-operative formed to take over the store voted this month to close it after running out of money to keep it going.

Five months after the co-operative took over, the store has been selling off its inventory in the past two weeks and closed for good Friday. The property owners have once again put the building on the market, for sale or lease, said John Koier, president of the board.

"It's very sad," said Jessica Adam, an employee. It's sad to see the store closing up, the jobs going away and the loss of a place for people in Underhill to go, she said.

The 110-member co-op continues to exist and recently started a bulk food buying group.

"We're hoping to just regroup and maybe start again small and try to re-inhabit the space," Koier said.

Community members had formed the co-operative to take over the store after owners Peter and Nancy Davis announced last fall that they didn't want to put off their retirement any longer and said they would close the store in December 2015, after failing to sell the building.

About 25 people attended a meeting in early November to talk about what could be done.

Eventually, residents opted to form the co-operative, buying shares in the store. The Davises then rented the building to the co-operative with the option to buy it.

Koier said the co-operative had put in a bunch of organic or natural products and beefed up the deli. The store was in the process of changing, he said.

"We were going to try and put in an espresso machine and do more baked goods and make it more a destination, you know? But we just, we ran out of money," he said.

Before the co-operative took over, the Davises had worked at the store. The expense for the co-operative to operate it with more employees turned out to be too much, Koier said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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