After Last Department Store Leaves, Town Decides To Start Its Own

After the last department store in town went bankrupt in 2002, the townsfolk of Saranac Lake, NY, faced the daunting prospect of having to drive 50 miles away just to purchase underwear. Rather than give up or give into complaining, they pulled themselves up by their mud boots and decided to build their own store, and it just opened.

Walmart had come a-courting, but the town sent them away. They felt it would detract from the town’s picturesque Adirondack charm, and put local merchants out of business.

Shares were sold for $100 and they had to raise $500,000. That’s a hard goal when there’s only 5,000 people in the town. But after five years of trying, they finally raised enough capital last spring. The store was open to the public this October 29th.

On sale were craft supplies, bedding materials, and clothes. Home goods will be added to the 4,000 square foot space by mid-November.

“It drives me crazy when people criticize how our system works, but they don’t actually go out and try anything,” Ed Pitts, one of the people who bought shares, told the New York Times. “This is more authentic capitalism.”

The first day it opened, the mercantile cash registers pulled in over $7,000. The biggest seller was underwear.

A Town Creates Its Own Department Store [NYT]