When Saranac Lake found itself in need of a place to shop, it decided to create one for itself.
After the local Ames Department Store closed due to bankruptcy, residents were forced to travel 50 miles to Plattsburgh for many consumer goods. Soon thereafter, Saranac Lake was approached by Walmart, which offered to build a 250,000 square foot supercenter. But the community declined the offer, fearing that Walmart would negatively impact local business and increase traffic. Instead, a community-owned store was organized and shares were sold to community residents. $500,000 was raised by about 600 residents, who made an average investment of $800 goal last spring. The store, Saranac Lake Community Store, opened in October 29, 2011 in remodeled facilities in downtown Saranac Lake
The store has been described as “the Green Bay Packers’ — a department store owned by its customers that will not pick up and leave when a better opportunity comes along or a corporate parent takes on too much debt.
Community-owned stores are fairly common in Britain, and not unfamiliar in the American West, where remote towns with dwindling populations find it hard to attract or keep businesses. But such stores are almost unknown on the densely populated East Coast. The Saranac Lake Community Store is the first in New York State.