Williamstown Group to Purchase Store at Five Corners
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A non-profit hopes to raise more than a million dollars by the end of January to purchase the historic Store at Five Corners.
The newly minted The Store at Five Corners Stewardship Association says it has finalized a purchase-and-sale agreement for the property at the intersection of Routes 43 and 7 with a closing date set for late January.
"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 and keep it thriving for many years to come," said the association's President Karen Charbonneau, a Williamstown resident.
The store has been closed since July 2020 and has had several owners over the past two decades. The property dates to 1770 when it opened as a tavern.
The community group says it has "a solid base of funds already committed and widespread support for this initiative," and that it was confident it could raise the $1.2 million to $1.5 million to cover the purchase price, make any repairs and create an endowment to maintain it.
The nonprofit South Williamstown Community Association will be acting as fiscal sponsor until the new group completes the process of becoming its own 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are considered tax-deductible charitable donations.
The association said an email survey of residents in October had an 85 percent return, with most giving the store a high rating for its importance to themselves and the community and that it remain independent.
According to a press release, the survey 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.
Many also noted its importance as a "gateway" for tourists into the town.
Survey respondents mentioned the Store's importance for tourism, as a "gateway" to Williamstown. Survey questions and sampled comments can be seen here. https://storeatfivecorners.org/survey-results/
"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," Charbonneau said. "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."
The association 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. It is anticipated to be ready to reopen for business in late spring or early summer.
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