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Community Store reaches goal, set to open this summer

The interim board of directors of the Community Store in Saranac Lake announced this week that it has reached its capital investment goal and will open sometime this summer.

Board members made the announcement Wednesday morning at the former Corvo's restaurant, the future site of the shareholder-owned department store.

The effort to open a community-owned department store in Saranac Lake launched in the summer of 2007, four years after the closure of the Ames department store.

At the time, the all-volunteer board of directors had high hopes of reaching its $500,000 capital goal quickly.

What they didn't anticipate was a severe economic downturn that ravaged markets and had business owners closing their doors rather than staging grand openings.

But the Community Store's interim president, Melinda Little, says that even though it took longer than expected, investors finally came through.

According to Little, the funds raised over the last four years will now be released from escrow, allowing the company to enter into financial commitments.

"This is going to let us sign a lease," she said. "And we are in negotiations right now with Greg Moore, who owns this building, the old Corvo's restaurant. We expect that to come to a conclusion very shortly."

Additionally, the investments can be used to begin hiring key positions for the store, such as manager and assistant manager.

The board's interim vice president, Gail Brill, says reaching the $500,000 mark is a huge relief.

"I feel good," she said. "It's been a long four years, but we were always secure in the fact that the community would rally in support of the store - and they have."

With the initial fundraising phase complete, the company is permitted to continue collecting shares, up to $600,000, until June.

Alan Brown is interim treasure for the Community Store. He says some 600 investors donated an average of $800 each - the minimum share price was $100. The largest single investment of $20,000 came from a Saranac Lake family, although the board said it could not identify specific donors.

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