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Bath's Brick Store is closing

By John Koziol
Union Leader Correspondent

January 13. 2016 7:55PM
One of the oldest continually-operated general stores in America, The Brick House in Bath is closing. (John Koziol)

BATH — With gratitude to their staff and customers, the owners of The Brick Store, believed to be one of the oldest continually-operated general stores in America, have announced that it is closing due to a number of factors.

In a Jan. 8 message on the store’s Facebook page, Mike and Nancy Lusby, who have owned and operated The Brick Store since 1992, said they had no choice but to shut down the emporium which catered to locals and tourists alike.

The Brick Store was the kind of place where — at one time — you could buy groceries, gas and beer; register an off-highway recreational vehicle, drop off your UPS packages and dry cleaning, and pick up your mail. It was famous for buttermilk donuts and both its smoked meats and the fudge that Nancy Lusby made, as well as its fudge-covered meats.

It had a funky, hipster vibe highlighted by numerous Time and Life magazines from the ’60s and ’70s, displays of its apothecary origins, and photos of the many presidential candidates who’d stopped in over the years.

With its wide, step-up porch, The Brick Store was arguably one of the most well-known visual icons of the North Country.

Located in Bath Village, the store is less than a hundred feet from the Ammonoosuc River and the bridge that spans it. The bridge’s extended closure and renovation, the Lusbys said, contributed to the demise of the store.

Although not immediately available for comment, the couple signaled some of what was to come for The Brick Store in a Dec. 3 Facebook posting.

“After years of experience during the winter season and due to changes in the economy, we have decided it is no longer economically feasible to stay open during the winter months.”

Bill Driscoll, shown here in May 2014, was one of the colorful employees of The Brick Store in Bath Village. On Jan. 8, the store's current owners announced that The Brick Store is closing due to a number of economic factors. (John Koziol)

The Lusbys hoped to reopen on May 15, but last Friday came to the conclusion that “... we cannot keep The Brick Store open any longer.”

They cited a downward economic spiral that began with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which cut their tour-bus business in half, the 2007 recession, the loss of local customers to “big-box and other corporate-owned businesses,” and, finally, the closure of the Bath Covered Bridge for 20 months.

“We did our best, but we have exhausted our resources, and lost Mike’s pension. We have done everything we can for 24 years to save the store, but we have nothing left to give ... financially, emotionally or physically.”

During a 2014 interview with the Union Leader, Nancy Lusby said she and her husband — who had been working, respectively, in the administration of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., and at a Silicon Valley company that provided support services for software and high-tech firms — came to Bath because of The Brick Store.

With Mike Lusby in between jobs, and with he and Nancy both looking for a change-of-pace for themselves and their three children, the couple searched for a new business opportunity and found it in a for-sale ad for The Brick Store in a magazine.

Before they made the trek east, however, Nancy Lusby said she and her husband first researched but ultimately decided against pursuing similar opportunities in 13 other states.

On the National Register of Historic Places, The Brick Store is believed to have been built between 1790 and 1804, although some sources say it was later.

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