Barnard Residents Mull Options For Store
By Virginia Shaw Dean
Special To The Standard
BARNARD — Over 20 people turned out last weekend at the town library for a collaborative meeting to save the struggling Barnard General Store. Resident Hope Moffat called the meeting to order at noon on Sunday to generate thoughts about how best to keep beating what many consider to be the pulse of this tiny hamlet nestled next to Silver Lake.
“We need to find a viable short term option,” said Moffat in a local blog. “To be clear, this meeting is intended as a first step only, to share information and outline an action plan to include further research and possible volunteerism to keep the doors open in some fashion.”
“This critical event can serve as a positive by waking us to the possibility of a life without a community heart,” noted resident Randal Vaughn in the same blog. “As goes the community store, so go we all.”
Ideas stemming from funding to contacting lawmakers unraveled from a lively but serious discussion concerning the fate of BGS.
“We need to think about financing options,” said Moffat.
“Legislators can deal with red tape by helping to draw attention to the issues,” noted participant Windsor Country Senator Dick McCormack.
Attendants also agreed that widescope publicity would help to promote awareness of the store’s potential demise.
“We need to play to the phenomenon,” said Vermont Standard owner and Barnard resident Phil Camp. “The more we tell the story, the better off we’ll be. We need to try to get it to the major media. We need more exposure.”
Newspaper and television coverage of the floundering store so far has raised awareness, owner Kim Furlong noted this week, although it will not change her and co-owner Carolyn DiCicco’s mind about selling.
“We just can’t carry the financial burden of it,” Furlong explained. The final night of serving burgers to the community this week created a “tidal wave” of action and “wall-towall people,” according to Furlong in a recent phone interview. She also noted in Sunday’s meeting that building and property owner Bill Twigg-Smith would like to sell but wants to ensure a positive outcome for the community.
“He would like to see some renovations prior to another opening,” said Furlong. “He really wants this to succeed.”
Resident Rick Corbin noted that a property purchase would be required for the long-term prosperity of BGS. “We would need a solid agreement of property purchase terms,” he said.
Vaughn agreed. “It’s all about funding,” he remarked. “From my viewpoint, there are short-term dollars to get the store back on its feet and long-term to create a thriving community store. The short-term dollars need to come in from places big and small. The long-term dollars need to come in from us all.”
Some of those who were at the meeting pointed to other Vermont general stores that were saved by preservation trusts or the fiscal investment of the communities themselves. Shrewsbury and Putney were held up as examples.
“Both also relied on a lot of volunteerism,” said Tom Platner. “We need a plan.”
Part of that vision to rescue the store, Vaughn noted, is based on the “heart problem”.
“Barnard has a new suit of clothes and a fresh haircut,” Vaughn recently wrote in the town’s blog. “But what about its heart? We’re supporting the shiny new Internet and there’s big enthusiasm for the new arts organization. But ignore the heart and soon the shiny new things are draped around a pile of bones. Let us take it upon ourselves to strengthen the core upon which we place our newfound enthusiasm. Act now, and let Tuesday the 8th of May be only the beginning.”