Francestown Village Store will close today; to be auctioned off in two weeksBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
July 05. 2017 8:43PM
FRANCESTOWN — The second-oldest continuously operating general store in the country is expected to lose that title today when its owners plan to close the doors on the business.
Rob and Christina Wohle, who bought the 202-year-old store four years ago, attempted to raise money from the community to pay town property back taxes so that the store would not be deeded to the town, but in the end, the store is being auctioned by the mortgage-holder.
The Francestown Village Store is being auctioned off by the bank on July 20, store clerk Ruth Sarkisian said Wednesday.
All day Wednesday the store had a 10 percent off sale for customers.
“People are coming in and expressing their sympathies,” Sarkisian said.
The store will open today at 6 a.m., but will shut its doors before the usual 8 p.m. closing time, she said.
Last month, the Wohles held a fundraiser to help pay the $20,573.25 in town property taxes owed for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.
According to the couple, the store never made the revenue they were told it would when they bought it.
On top of that, last year the Wohles had to stop selling gas and disabled the store’s gas tanks. All gasoline retailers were under a January 2016 state deadline to comply with new tank regulations, but Christina Wohle said she and her husband had been unaware of that when they bought the store.
According to the town’s tax records, the Wohles owe $20,573.25 in taxes for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The town has a lien on the property.
An online fundraiser on GoFundMe to raise $100,000 to save the store only raised $5,480.
The Francestown Village Store was established in 1814 as The Long Store. It has been home to banks, a post office, a harness maker, jeweler, and the town’s fire department. The two-story wood-frame building includes a three-bedroom apartment upstairs.
James R. St. Jean Auctioneers are holding the auction at the store at 10 a.m. on July 20.