Skip Navigation
Regional News
Photo: Sandra Hildreth
Photo: Sandra Hildreth

Saranac Lake launches new community department store

Listen to this story
Organizers in Saranac Lake say they've raised enough investment capital to open a community-owned department store sometime this summer.

The shareholder-owned store will be one of the few businesses of its type in the US.

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

Chris Morris has our story.

Hear this

Download audio

Share this

Explore this

Reported by

Chris Morris
Tri-Lakes Correspondent

Story location

News near this location

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 village's 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, hundreds of investors finally came through, buying individual shares.

"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.”

The half-million dollars of investment capital will also allow organizers to begin hiring key positions for the store, such as manager and assistant manager.

The board’s interim vice president, Gail Brill, says reaching their fundraising goal 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.

The next step is to hire staff and convert the former restaurant, located on Main Street in the heart of Saranac Lake, into a department store.

With about 5,000 square feet of available space, Gail Brill anticipates the business will feature a wide array of products.

“Products that are affordable for every person in Saranac Lake and obviously high quality,” she said. “I mean that’s our goal – to have a range of things.”

Saranac Lake's store is the first of its kind in New York. Brill believes it may be the first of its kinds in the entire northeast, and organizers are already hearing from other rural communities looking to launch similar outfits.

"We heard from Belfast, Maine at one point, although I haven't been in touch with them to find out how that effort is going," she said. "There have been contacts made from other parts of the country about what we're doing. People check our website all the time to find out how we're doing and what we're doing to inspire investment."

Melinda Little says the store will employee up to eight part and full-time workers from the Tri-Lakes area.

Despite its unique business model, the store isn't a non-profit. The business will pay full taxes to the village of Saranac Lake.

A lot has to happen before the Community Store will be open for business, but a tentative grand opening is set for sometime in early July.

Visitor comments


NCPR is supported by:

This is a Visitor-Supported website.