As a resident and real estate agent in Underhill, Vermont, I am pleased to share the news about the future of the Underhill Country Store, where I had an office for 11 years. I was located on the second floor, which was very handy when I was hungry or needed a coffee fix. Or a glass of wine. Or some chocolate. It might have been a little too handy. Anyway, I always saw someone I knew and it was a great place to catch up on local news. But then one day the local news was bad news. The store was going to close!
Husband/wife team Peter and Nancy Davis owned the Underhill Country Store for many years. They decided to retire, and either sell or close the store. When the word got out that Underhill might no longer have the convenience of its go-to store, a group of residents formed the Underhill Country Store Cooperative and began investigating the possibility of purchasing it and running it as a food co-op and operating it as a community-owned business.
Underhill Country Store Cooperative rallies community support
The idea of a cooperative gained traction with Underhill’s 3,000 residents and over $50,000 was pledged by potential co-op members by the end of 2015. The Underhill Country Store Cooperative formed a five-member board of directors who are conducting due diligence on details needed to start this business venture. Then they took it one step further and created a partnership with Onion River Co-op of Burlington.
As with any start-up business, starting a food co-op has many challenges. Teaming up with Onion River Co-op eliminated many of them. It also helps that about 200 of Onion River Co-op’s 11,300 members live in the Underhill/Jericho area.
The future looks bright for Underhill Country Store
Presently, several managers from the Onion River Co-op are learning the day-to-day operations of the Underhill Country Store from the Davises. They are also polling customers about what they’d like to see at a co-op in Underhill and learning more about what makes a country store such a vital part of the community. Underhill’s residents are united about operating the store as a member-owned food co-op and the Underhill Country Store Cooperative Board has been working hard to make this dream come true.
As soon as the ink is dry, I will let you know how things look for the Underhill Country Store and hopefully a new Underhill Co-op.