January 19, 2022
Dear Friends –
We thought we’d take this opportunity to provide an update regarding the Store at Five Corners Stewardship Association (SAFCSA) and let you know how you can participate in its ambitious project of purchasing, reviving, and preserving the Store. If you have already reached out with a contribution of time, energy or funds – we offer our sincere appreciation. This initiative would not be possible without broad community engagement, and we’re thrilled by the progress so far!
Before SAFCSA embarked on this effort, the South Williamstown Community Association (SWCA) sought input from its membership via an email survey circulated in early October. This survey garnered an astonishing 85% return rate. On average, respondents rated the importance of the Store to the community at 8.9 out of 10, and its importance to them personally at 8.7 out of 10. Almost 90% preferred that the Store remain independent (i.e. not a chain). Many volunteered to help with any effort to revive the Store. See https://storeatfivecorners.org/survey-results/ for a fuller account of survey questions, answers and comments.
A subgroup of the SWCA board then acted quickly to incorporate SAFCSA, governed by six volunteer directors, all of whom are also SWCA board members. Karen Charbonneau is a SAFCSA director and president; MaryEllen Meehan is a director and treasurer; Matthew Baya is a director and secretary; and Alison Case, Anne Hogeland, and Carolyn Umlauf are directors.
SAFCSA is partnering with SWCA, a federally recognized 501(c)(3) organization which is acting as SAFCSA’s fiscal sponsor for purposes of receiving tax-deductible donations, until SAFCSA completes the process of becoming its own 501(c)(3) organization.
SAFCSA’s fundraising goal is to reach $1.2 to $1.5 million in the coming months. While these figures might seem ambitious, it is essential that we establish a sizable endowment to cover the long-term costs of maintaining and improving a building dating back some 200 years. The purchase price for the Store is $400,000, leaving $800,000 to $1.1 million for the endowment fund.
Building this fund prior to the reopening of the Store – anticipated this Spring or early Summer – will help to ensure the Store’s long-term success. SAFCSA will be leasing the Store to a new operator who will run the Store as their own business. This community initiative is striving not only to reopen the Store, but also to keep the Store open for many years to come!
The excellent news is that in just a few weeks many community members have generously stepped up to support this effort. To date, SAFCSA has raised $707,005.33 in pledges and donations. This reflects the community’s passion and commitment to the Store’s reopening, revival, and long-term sustainability.
Upon finalizing the Purchase and Sale Agreement in early December, SAFCSA also identified priority areas for building improvements to be addressed before the Store reopens. These include upgrading the basement floor and foundation to reduce moisture, diverting water away from the building’s perimeter, bat proofing the attic, and improving the exterior decking, stairs, and ramp to ensure safe access to the Store and an enhanced outdoor gathering space.
SAFCSA has been working with the Town’s Community Preservation Committee (CPC) on an application (filed with the Town earlier this month) for a grant of historic preservation funds in the amount of $50,000 to defray these expenses. If the CPC votes to recommend this funding, the proposal will be presented to the Spring 2022 Annual Town Meeting.
While we are heartened by all the progress to date, and hopeful to receive a CPA grant, this still leaves approximately $440,000 to $740,000 needed to meet our fundraising goal. We’re hoping everyone who cares about the Store will join in the push to raise these funds. Please remember that every donation helps!
The second half of a fund drive is always the most challenging. Quite simply – this will be our main focus and all-hands-on-deck priority until we reach our goal.
If you haven’t done so already, please join this push by considering a contribution to this effort. Donations can be made by credit card, PayPal, personal check, or transfer of equities (for instructions, see SAFCSA’s website at https://storeatfivecorners.org/). For purposes of tax-deductibility, all donations are made to SAFCSA’s fiscal sponsor, the South Williamstown Community Association.
Also, we have a favor to ask if you’re willing. We’ve learned that personal referrals are the best way to generate interest and would greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word. To this end, we’d be grateful if you could please take a few minutes to come up with names of FIVE people or organizations who you think might be willing to help support FIVE CORNERS. Please consider friends, family, business associates, college classmates, etc. – folks who live here in Williamstown or much farther away – for whom the Store, Williamstown, and the Berkshires might evoke fond memories and connections.
So far, there has been no geographic boundary to the outpouring of support – we’ve received donations from as far away as Kentucky, Utah, Chicago, San Francisco, North Palm Beach, Colombia, and Germany!
Once you’ve identified potential donors, please contact them and direct them to our website. If you’re on social media, please also consider posting about your support, linking to SAFCSA’s website on your preferred platform, and ‘tagging’ friends who might be interested in joining this effort.
Please encourage potential donors to contact SAFCSA at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions or desire further information. If you prefer, please let us know of anyone you suggest that SAFCSA should contact directly, and we will reach out to them.
Over the next few months, SAFCSA will be seeking community participation in other ways in anticipation of the Store’s reopening. For example, please keep an eye out for the upcoming release of SAFCSA’s Operator Application Packet – and feel free to circulate to anyone who might be interested.
In the meantime, SAFCSA’s focus is on solidifying its financial foundation to ensure its long-term success in saving, reviving, and sustaining the Store. Please know that we welcome donations of any size and greatly appreciate your input and help.
Wishing you all the best for 2022 – and stay safe!
SAFCSA’S Board of Directors
Karen Charbonneau, President
MaryEllen Meehan, Treasurer
Matthew Baya, Secretary