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Meeting Monday to Discuss Future of Cornish General Store

Cornish Flat — A community discussion about the possibility of reopening the former general store in Cornish Flat as a public-private venture will be held Monday at the store location on Route 120 beginning at 7 p.m.

Resident George Edson said Saturday there is “widespread interest” in seeing a store in the building but how deep-seated that interest is he is not sure of at this point.

“The sentiment is that we would like to have a store in our little town,” Edson said.

Bob and Shirley Bladen closed the store in late August and retired after owning it for 13 years. Shirley Bladen said Saturday they have had “some interest” in trying to sell the building.

At Monday’s discussion will be Paul Bruhn with the Preservation Trust of Vermont in Montpelier. Edson said Bruhn will talk about the programs in Vermont that work to preserve small, country stores and reopen them. Rather than 100 percent private ownership, Edson said, a model that has a public entity owning the store and then leasing it to a private operator is one possibility for the store reopening.

“If a public entity owns it, there is better control,” he said. “There are a number of things that can be done, including a co-op.”

Edson said the store, located on a heavily traveled corridor between Claremont and the Lebanon-Hanover area, can be a successful operation. But he added that as a solely private venture, the capital needed to buy the property, stock shelves and pay other expenses associated with starting a business make it a difficult financial proposition for most.

Selectman John Hammond said Saturday the board has not had any discussions on the idea or the town itself being involved but he is intrigued. “I’m curious on a personal level on what some of the thoughts are,” Hammond said. “Batting around some ideas is a start. Maybe something will come up you can build on.” Hammond said the space is almost too big for a small general store, but it is worth pursuing the possibilities.

“It is too bad a nice building like that in the village is vacant. It is a hub.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.