×

Francestown Village Store shuts its doors after 203-year run

  • The Francestown Village Store closed on Thursday after over 200 years of operation. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Francestown Village Store closed on Thursday after over 200 years of operation. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Allison Beglin of Weare is disappointed to discover that the Francestown Village Store was closed when she showed up there on Thursday morning. Staff photoS by Ben Conant

  • The Francestown Village Store closed on Thursday after over 200 years of operation. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Francestown Village Store closed on Thursday after over 200 years of operation. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, July 10, 2017 7:19PM

After more than 200 years of continuous operation, the Francestown Village Store closed its doors for the last time on Thursday.

On its last day, owners Christina and Rob Wohle opened the store for its regular morning coffee crowd and then closed up for a final time not long after.

“It was sad, a lot of tears,” Rob said Thursday about the last coffee with regulars. “It was a sad morning.”

Derek Fulton, who has been in Francestown for two years, said he would come to the store a couple times a week.

“The people that were here, the friendliness, getting a cup of coffee and not having to make it, the sandwiches were great and I bought a lot of meat and things from here,” Fulton said about why he loved going to the store in the center of town. 

Christina said in a message to the Ledger-Transcript that the store has been struggling alongside many others like it during these hard economic times. She said due to many other economic circumstances, including the loss of traffic when the gas pumps were removed last year, the store is no longer a viable business.

“We lost our fuel pumps last year, and it’s just been downhill from there,” Rob said. “That was a huge hit, to lose those fuel pumps. We saw our business drastically die after the fuel pumps came out.”

On top of that, Rob said the internet and Francestown being a bedroom community where everyone commutes to work and then hits the supermarket on their way home has also made operating the store difficult. 

Christina said the store’s iconic New England charm was one of the reasons they purchased their home in Francestown in the first place.

“The iconic New England village feel is anchored by its little general, or village, store,” she said. “It is the lifeblood of the community.”

Three years after they settled in the small town, she and her husband bought the store that’s been in operation since 1814.

But now, Rob said general stores are dying, and are likely a thing of the past.

“Unless you’re in a big tourist area and you make it a tourist attraction, the true general store, which this was and has been for over 200 years, a little bit of everything – a little grocery, a little hardware, a little of everything and I tried so hard to not make it a Kwik-E-Mart, a convenience store – I tried to keep it a true general store, and I failed,” he said.

For the past few months, a few concerned residents have attempted to facilitate building the business back at the store. Christina said all efforts were in vain, and they have been forced to shutter the store’s doors.

“We appreciate the support the store did receive from those who gave much of themselves and wish this was not a closing chapter for a business that has been a community staple for more than 200 years,” she said.

The store will be auctioned off on July 20 at 10 a.m., according to James R. St. Jean Auctioneers. The auction will happen at its location on 74 Main Street. The property is assessed at $309,100, according to town records. A foreclosure document on the auction website lists the mortgage holder as Lake Sunapee Bank.