MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — 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 cooperative 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 cooperative 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 cooperative 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 cooperative, buying shares in the store. The Davises then rented the building to the cooperative with the option to buy it.
Koier said the cooperative 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 cooperative took over, the Davises had worked at the store. The expense for the cooperative to operate it with more employees turned out to be too much, Koier said.