With little warning, The Store at Five Corners, which is the longest continuously operating store in the country, made its final sale Feb. 9.
The store's proprietor, Ryan Hasset, was informed last week of the decision to close, which was made by Franklin Lewis, the store's owner since 2009. Lewis said the decision was made to curtail financial losses, while Hasset and others have disputed whether that was a reasonable cause.
Since June 2012, when Hasset became the store's proprietor, he has sought to revive the store's roots as a traditional gathering place in South Williamstown, where the building has stood since around 1765.
The Five Corners property is zoned for residential use, but because of the store's long history, it has been "grandfathered in" as a retail establishment. However, a clause in the town's zoning bylaws states that if the store remains vacant for more than two years, it will revert to residential use and no longer be allowed to serve as a store.
The residential zoning clause is unlikely to be altered legislatively, said Sam Edgerton, a local historian, noting the domino effect that could result throughout the area, with other properties making similar requests.
"As of Sunday the clock starts running. Two-years from now if there's not a store in there, that area will be re-zoned as residential, and the store will not be able to continue."
See this week's print edition of The Advocate for more.