Anticipation of the Community Store's opening Saturday should have Saranac Lake bursting with the pride of seeing five years of planning finally come to fruition. Out of frustration with the loss of the Ames department store in 2003, when that chain folded, people complained they couldn't find basic essentials and jokingly spoke of "the town without underwear."
Well, that will change, thanks to a bunch of hard-working volunteers who took on this huge endeavor. Focused and persistent, they sold shares of the store's stock to hundreds of locals and other New Yorkers - enough to renovate a former restaurant downtown, do a marketing study, hire a manager and have a buyer order the merchandise requested by residents and stakeholders.
We support their tenacity and belief in the community in seeing their dream come to fruition. The usual negativity and pessimism that comes with implementing a new community project should vanish as people witness the enthusiasm and spirit of the Community Store's people and, hopefully, the quality, selection and reasonable pricing of its goods.
In many ways, it's a store like any other: It's privately owned with no subsidies or grants, and it will live or die based on the same supply-demand market factors that affect other shops. But there is at least one key advantage: It won't be moved to greener pastures elsewhere. Of course, we can confidently say that of most businesses here, but it can't always be said of chain stores, as Ticonderoga recently found when its two-year-old Lowe's was shut down overnight, with no advance notice, by corporate management.
Residents of the Saranac Lake area are all responsible for the Community Store's success. After all, when the community complained about the lack of goods, the community came up with a solution, the community bought into it, and now the community needs to make it work. That means, as a shopper, at least give it a good, solid chance.
There is an added incentive of a special gift for the first 100 customers when you come to the opening. So slip on your holey underwear and hurry on down. It's located at 97 Main St. next to Berkeley Square, above Bear Essentials in downtown Saranac Lake. The doors open at 9 a.m.