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Jaffrey

The future of Coll’s Farm Stand in question

Prospective buyer could forestall pending sale at auction

  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Lori and Mark Coll of Jaffrey discuss the sale of Coll's Farm outside the sugar house on Tuesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

JAFFREY — Coll’s Farm Stand at 16 Colls Farm Rd. closed its doors in mid-June, but owners Mark and Lori Coll said Tuesday they will continue to sell local produce out of their neighboring sugarhouse until they can find a buyer for the family business — which may not be too far off.

While the couple is in talks with a potential buyer, it is unclear at this time if a settlement will be reached. Mark said in an interview at the farm Tuesday that he is awaiting bank approval, which could take until later this month. If for some reason the deal falls through, a public auction is slated for Aug. 29 for the 6,184-square-foot building and the approximately 1.5 acres it stands on.

“We are hopeful the store will reopen. He wants to work in conjunction with us to bring it back to the way it was and maybe improve it,” Mark said of the potential buyer, who has expressed interest in partnering with the Colls to supply the store’s main produce and farm-fresh products. But until the sale is final, Mark said the prospective buyer will remain anonymous.

Mark and Lori have owned and operated Coll’s Farm since 2000, when they purchased it from Mark’s parents, Helen and Archie Coll . But after years of financial hardship due to dwindling profits, in addition to health challenges Mark has endured, the couple told the Ledger-Transcript in January they were selling the farmstand. For more than six months, the couple kept the store, deli, meat, seafood room and eatery open, but Mark said they reached a point this summer where they just couldn’t do it anymore.

“We didn’t see much point being in the big building where the overhead was huge,” he said of the utility costs. “It made no sense, people coming into a big building that was virtually empty. It was depressing.”

When the Colls closed the business on June 17, Mark said they weren’t sure what the future would hold. Now, a prospective buyer has restored their hope that the 80 year legacy of Coll’s Farm can continue, Mark said. “It’s something that’s been our whole lives,” said Mark. “And this is an opportunity. [The prospective buyer] is committed to bringing it back to what it was, and to doing what is right by us and the name.”

If the bank approves the sale, Mark said it probably won’t be until fall that Coll’s Farm Stand reopens. He said there will likely be some minor renovations and aesthetic touch-ups to the building following the sale, that is, if the sale is finalized.

According to James R. St. Jean Auctioneer’s website, the assessed value of the 1.5 acre property is $258,940. Coll’s Farm Stand’s 2012 property taxes totaled $7,072. The website also references a mortgage deed from Mark and Lori to Monadnock Community Bank of Gardner, Mass., dated Jan. 21, 2009, and recorded in the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds. When asked about the pending auction Tuesday, Mark and Lori confirmed they knew about it, but declined to comment further.

The sugarhouse, which is not for sale, is expected to remain open until the day before Coll’s Farm reopens for business, and then the Colls said they will stop selling out of their sugarhouse to avoid competing with the bigger store.

Coll’s Farm has been providing fresh food, eggs and produce to the community for more than 80 years. In the 1930s, Archie Coll Sr., and his wife, Eva, began raising chickens at a farm on Nutting Road in Jaffrey. When they retired from farming, their son Archie Jr., and his wife, Helen, continued producing eggs for local markets and opened the farmstand. That business quickly expanded, with the Colls’ cage-free chickens producing eggs that were widely distributed. Since the early 2000s, when Mark and Lori took over the business, Coll’s Farm has specialized in a diverse selection of farm-fresh and organic produce.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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