The Community Store in Saranac Lake, a small village nestled in the Adirondack region of upstate New York, is entirely owned and operated by locals. A team of area residents banded together to open the store in 2011, almost a decade after the village’s only department store shut down. Now, they’re crowdfunding to make sure the store survives into the future, with plans to launch an e-commerce site.
When an Ames department store closed in 2002, area residents were forced to drive 50 miles just for the bare necessities. Superstore Walmart tried to take its place, but residents decided they didn’t want the big box store to set up shop in town. It took them awhile, but a band of unhappy Saranac Lake locals successfully coordinated a mass effort to renovate, stock and open their own store. And since doing so in 2011, sales have gone up with every passing year.
Now, its owners want to spark a new era of growth and launch an e-commerce site that will let lovers of the Adirondacks and tourists order products online — an opportunity as more flock to the area’s new hotels and restaurants. Melinda Little, a founding board member and current president of the association running the store, is leading the charge to digitize the store’s offerings. She says the online store will carry “a robust selection of Adirondack products that celebrate their ties to the Region.”
As a serial entrepreneur herself, Little is all too familiar with the struggles of keeping a business growing. “Our store has realized average annual gross revenues of $360,000,” she wrote in the campaign. However, “we need to generate $420,000 to $425,000 to achieve profitability.”
Little and her team hope the website update, planned for this fall, will push the store’s annual revenue figures over that threshold.
The Money: Little is running an equity crowdfunding campaign on WeFunder, which means contributors will get an ownership stake in the store. The Community Store seeks to raise between $50,000 to $107,000 and has generated just over $53,000 as of publication. Money generated by the campaign will be used to launch an e-commerce site, as well as expand the store’s inventory.
Related: Read more about equity crowdfunding.