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Bank retains Francestown Village Store

  • Kip Dalley, who owned the Francestown Village Store for nine years starting in 1984, sits outside the market on Thursday after a bank retained the property during an auction. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • James R. St Jean auctions off the Francestown Village Store on Thursday. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Bank retains Francestown Village Store during auction on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, July 24, 2017

A bank retained the Francestown Village Store during an auction outside of the now shuttered 203-year-old building that long held the title as the second oldest continuously running store in the country.

James R. St. Jean, the auctioneer, said any interested parties would have had to register $10,000 in cash or certified check, and had to pay $25,000 on top of the bidding price to cover the cost of any outstanding municipal liens.

Lake Sunapee Bank, a division of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, was the only registered bidder during the auction. Senior Vice President Elizabeth Smith bid $100,000 for the piece of property.

“Being the only registered bidder, the property is going back to the bank for $100,000 concluding our sale here this morning,” James R. St. Jean, the auctioneer, said during the proceeding.

Bob Abbott, who was part of the regular morning coffee crew at the store, stood in the crowd on Thursday.

“It’s a big loss to the town,” Abbott said after the auction. 

Since the store’s doors closed, he’s had to dig out and dust off the coffee pot in his house. And even though he can brew his own coffee, the social aspect is hard to come by in the small town that has few other central gathering places.

Ruth Sarkisian was standing next to Abbott after the auction. She worked at the village store for about a year and a half until it went out of business earlier this month.

She said she’s been in town for about eight years, but has grown a deeper connection with the town through the work.

“I’ve really grown to love the town and get to know the people in the community from working here,” she said. “And now there’s not really any central place for people to gather.”

They said maybe the library could act as a social place, but Sarkisian said it’s not the same because “they like to keep you quiet.”

That wasn’t the case at the store.

Kip Dalley sat on granite slabs alongside the store after the auction. Dalley bought the village store in 1984 and owned the place for nine years.

“He had a fantastic store,” said Emily Howarth, of Francestown. “We used to buy everything here, meat and everything.”

Dalley said he liked owning the store, but that it eventually got to be too much.

“It’s an albatross,” he said. “It’s so much work.”

He said the only way he could see it working is if the next owner doubles as a carpenter. The building is old and needs a lot of work.

“Everybody who buys it thinks they’re going to make $1 million, but they’re not going to,” Dalley said. “You can make a steady income, but not $1 million. And it’s a lot of work.”

St. Jean said the bank will likely list the property on the market or cut a deal before that time rolls around.

“I was hoping someone local would buy it,” Abbott said, although he added the concept of a general store in a small town might be a thing of the past.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.