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Vt. community rallies to save general store - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. community rallies to save general store

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PAWLET, Vt. -

Inside Mach's General Store in Pawlet, Anthony Perkins is eating lunch. He heads here every day, not just for a great ham and cheese sandwich but for the company.

"Everybody comes here to visit," Perkins said.

But the town of just under 1,400 almost lost what many community members say is the epicenter of Pawlet.

"With the economy, things have kind of slowed down and it's been a challenge to keep things going," said J.J. Kaveny, who owns Mach's.

Three months ago, Kaveny did not think he would be able to keep open the store that he took over four years ago, but has been around since the 1940s. He spoke to local community members about his situation. They refused to let the store go.

"It's the heart of our community. I like to say it's the glue that holds it together," said Marsha McLean of Pawlet.

Members of the Pawlet community began fundraising efforts to keep the store alive. They started by asking locals to fill up their charge accounts. Within a week, they generated a cash flow of $10,000 after customers stepped up and put cash in their accounts.

"When you live in the rural community, it is really the center of where we see the community and community is so important to living in a rural place," said Judy Lake of Pawlet.

The location of an event set for Tuesday night to raise more funds for the store was just another example of the success the community has had working together. The Pawlet Town Hall Theater had been closed for 10 years, but after fundraising and grant writing efforts, they raised the $200,000 needed to bring the building up to code so it could open again.

Those who frequent Mach's General Store say they really can't imagine Pawlet without it.

"The community really has come together and they need to to keep the store here. Without this store... this town... it's the center of it," said Anthony Perkins of Rupert.

Now that Pawlet has come together to salvage these community institutions, they have plenty of plans to keep things going. A dance teacher has already booked a recital at the Town Hall Theater and the general store says they'll be expanding their prepared food options so they can serve more people.

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