A group of preservationists is trying to raise a half-million dollars to ensure the continued existence of The Elmore Store, which the group calls “the heart of the community.”
The Elmore Community Trust, working with the Preservation Trust of Vermont, aims to raise $500,000 to buy the building from Warren and Kathy Miller, who have run the store for 36 years.
The money would also be used for renovations to the building — a new septic system, walk-in cooler, climate control system and public restroom.
The trust on Feb. 10 launched an online campaign — bit.ly/2xs02ep — that had raised $3,500 toward the half-million-dollar goal as of press time.
“The store is the heart of the community — it is the post office, a gathering place, local news hub, and a place to eat and pick up groceries,” the fundraising site notes. “Most importantly, it is the central location that gives our small town its identity, and where you are sure to run into a neighbor.”
The Elmore Community Trust is a new nonprofit organization with eight people on its board — according to the group’s website, they are “devoted Elmore residents with a goal of caring for places that make Elmore special, and to bring in the types of businesses, organizations, and residents that contribute positively to our vibrant rural community.”
The Elmore Store project is the group’s first, but it hopes to branch into others. If the purchase of the store is successful, the trust would seek out someone to run it. The new proprietors would pay rent, but otherwise wouldn’t have to worry about all the costs associated with owning and taking care of a building constructed in the 1800s.
Over the long term, the trust would use rent revenue for property maintenance and turn its eye toward other community projects.
The store and the town’s one-room schoolhouse were fondly spoken about during Elmore’s town meeting last week. Town moderator Jon Gailmor, during a post-meeting talk with WDEV, called the store and one-room schoolhouse “local treasures.”
Gov. Phil Scott has also fond memories of the store. During the 2018 campaign, he lunched on Fire Tower Pizza — the rustic eatery that has become a popular part of the store in recent years — and reminisced about his childhood summers on Lake Elmore.
The store still doubles — triples? quadruples? — as the town post office, and Scott even fiddled with his Aunt Mary’s old post-office box to see if he could remember the combination.
Scott literally might not exist without The Elmore Store. His mother used to work there part-time and, one day, began delivering groceries to a World War II veteran who had a place nearby. She eventually married that man: Scott’s father.