By Virginia Dean
Special To The Standard
With a couple of strokes of a pen, the Barnard General Store was brought back to life today as attorney Tom Wright, on behalf of Barnard resident and seller William Twigg-Smith, signed over ownership of the store building to the Barnard Community Trust. The closing on the $500,000 purchase, which does not include fees and a transfer tax, took place in Wright’s office. Richard W. Carbin, President, signed on behalf of the BCT.
Other BCT Board Trustees present included Secretary Tom Platner and Vice President Lee W. Resseguie, Esquire. Also in attendance was interested party Paul Bruhn, Executive Director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont located in Burlington. John Snyder of Snyder Bassette Real Estate Group in Woodstock was present as the sellers’s realtor.
“This is a milestone for the town of Barnard,” Carbin said. “It’s a major step. We’ve had over 500 individuals contributing to this to make it happen.”
Since the store’s closing in the spring of 2012, donations, pledges, events and other venues have contributed to attain a selling price to which Twigg-Smith eventually agreed. The BCT, which was formed in the summer of 2009 as a local, nonprofit organization to help support the store, ramped up efforts to purchase the store. Donations from $1 to $100,000 followed.
“This is remarkable for such a small community organization,” said Bruhn. “Everyone continued on task and did a great job. It was brilliant to keep the store open while you were fundraising to keep the community connected. This is a textbook example of how a great local organization can succeed.”
Community members rallied at the end of November to declare their support of the re-opening of the store at a meeting held in the Town Hall. Suggestions were heard about how to best promote the financial viability of the store.
As of mid-January, approximately $475,000 had been raised with an overall goal of $650,000, a half-million of which would be used to purchase the store and $150,000 for additional expenses including insurance, utilities, a heating system, licensing, salaries, inventory, and general repairs.
“We have not stopped fundraising,” Platner said. “We need, more than ever, to pay off what’s left of the mortgage as well as the necessary expenditures”.
That sum, not including expenses, Platner explained, amounts to $100,000 A minimum of $250,000 was requested at the signing, leaving the remainder to be paid off by January 2014.
“Bill offered a deal because he preferred not to get the money all at once,” said Platner. “We’ll put down half and he’ll hold a note at a low interest rate for the other half payable by this time next year.”
Platner said, however, that the BCT will put down a good-faith earnest money deposit of $300,000, with another $100,000 in a promised, anonymous donation, leaving $100,000 to be bankrolled.
“We can pay this off,” Platner noted. “There are no payments on it. It just has to be paid off by January 2014.”
As of March 1, 2013, the store will be leased to Jillian Bradley and Joseph Minerva of Richmond, Vermont Carbin said. They will be the new business managers and are expected to move into the apartment over the store in mid-February.
“They’re young, enthusiastic and exceptional,” Platner added.
Bradley and Minerva will start their own business in the newly-purchased store. They will be responsible for a 10-10 long-term lease with the option to renew. They will pay an undisclosed monthly fee and an additional cost for the apartment.
“We want to make it as reasonable as we can,” Platner remarked. “We’ll give a substantial financial break the first month. They’re putting their own money into this. They’re great kids – hard-working, enthusiastic, and experienced. They want to be here for awhile.”
There will be a welcome-to-Barnard celebration after the new managers have moved in, Platner said.
Phil Camp Photo
Rick Carbin shakes the hand of John Snyder, representing William Twigg-Smith, as they formalize the signing over of the store to the Barnard Community Trust.