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A new non-profit organization, The Store at Five Corners Stewardship Association (SAFCSA), has finalized a Purchase and Sale (P&S) agreement for The Store at Five Corners – the historic meeting place at the intersection of Routes 43 and 7 in Williamstown – with a closing date set for late January.
With a solid base of funds already committed and widespread support for this initiative, SAFCSA is confident in its ability to raise the funds needed to purchase the Store and to ensure a strong financial footing for the future. SAFCSA’s goal is to raise $1.2-1.5 million by the end of January to cover the purchase price, perform any building work needed to open, and establish a long-term endowment fund for any ongoing capital expenses, maintenance, and repairs.
Karen Charbonneau, SAFCSA president and Williamstown resident, said “I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to work so collaboratively with the owner, Franklin Lewis, to achieve this result and pave the way to reviving the Store [closed since July 2020] and keep it thriving for many years to come.”
With the P&S signed, SAFCSA will now launch a community fundraising drive to meet its goal. The South Williamstown Community Association, a federally-recognized 501(c)(3) organization, will be acting as fiscal sponsor until SAFCSA completes the process of becoming its own 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are considered tax-deductible charitable donations.
An email survey to residents in October to gauge public support garnered an astonishing 85% return rate. On average, respondents rated the importance of the Store to the community at 8.9 out of 10, and its importance to them personally at 8.7 out of 10. Almost 90% preferred that the Store remain independent (i.e. not a chain). Many volunteered to help with any effort to revive the Store.
Comments stressed not only the convenience of being able to pick up milk and other staples, wine and specialty foods, and to enjoy the cafe, but also the pleasure of having the Store as a place to visit and a community hub. Many spoke of meeting friends there for coffee or lunch, bringing guests, children, and grandchildren there for treats, and shopping for last-minute house gifts.
Survey respondents mentioned the Store’s importance for tourism, as a “gateway” to Williamstown, and to workers in the area who appreciate a nearby place to get coffee and snacks. They spoke also of the delight of running into friends and neighbors in a setting that invites casual socializing. See https://storeatfivecorners.org/survey-results/ for the survey questions and answers and a sampling of comments.
Again from Charbonneau, “Based on the immediate outpouring of support, and commitment of substantial funds from numerous community members – even before we’ve launched any formal fundraising efforts – we decided to go ahead and commit to purchasing the Store. We certainly have a lot of work ahead of us to meet our $1.2-1.5 million goal, but this is an important effort that we’re sure people in the Berkshires and beyond will embrace.”
In addition to raising significant funds in a short timeframe, SAFCSA is also currently seeking a business operator interested in leasing the building to run as a cafe and general store, with offerings to include groceries, coffee, prepared foods, bakery items and more. With over 2000 square feet of retail space, extensive cooler and freezer space, a barista machine, and state-of-the-art baking equipment in place, the Store offers a great opportunity for a creative business person.
The Store should be ready to reopen for business in late Spring or early Summer of 2022.