Future looks grim for VT homegrown flagship — while NH store prospers

Brattleboro’s Barber Building up for sale

Sam’s: Staying in business … for at least another 10 years

By Robert Audette

raudette@reformer.com @shocked60 on Twitter

Posted:   01/30/2015 07:57:01 PM EST0 Comments | Updated:   about 12 hours ago


Sam’s ‘Army Navy’ in Brattleboro VT — much loved highly successful local store serving residents as well as our friends from the downcountry flatter-lands — young & old alike since 1932 — looks to sell out their building & property which has been home for over 80 years since 1932 in landmark building built nearly 100 years ago in 1917. And, the Borofsky family- business owner is discouraging the next in line family member to become owner from continuing.

According to the Reformer story the flagship VT store has suffered a revenue loss the while the Keene NH store prospers & expands:

“We are becoming more of a tourist attraction because the locals choose to go across the river,” he said.

“The Keene store is going to expand this summer by a little more than 50 percent. It has a great future there.”

That’s a huge amount especially in this overall stagnant US economy.

The Hadley MA store is reportedly also strongly positioned.

Not mentioned is the Bellows Falls store, anchor of the downtown square which closed years ago leaving yet another hole in the local Windham Cty economy as they were a longtime steady business bringing commerce to the tiny town. Offered great paying steady employment in a wonderful atmosphere. And longtime employer for a small location.  

“The business climate gets worse and worse here and it gets better on the other side of the river,” he said…”On the east side of the Connecticut River there has been nothing but growth. But on our side, for about 30 years, it’s been in decline.”

As taxes rise here in VT including the optional local tax, or threat therof, affixed to the state sales tax to bolster declining revenues as well as the business community, this also becomes a disincentive for businesses to locate where the tax is levied or to stay. And this self-perpetuating downward spiral hurts everyone, state & local in part b/c VT is so small. Any ripple in the economy reverberates locally & regionally at the very least.

While our breathtakingly foolish wealthy governor and 1% club member cushions, pads & protects the bottom line of other wealthy VT friends he now hands a no-strings-attached cool $2.5 million to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi — worth hundreds of billions in assets — yes billions to keep former IBM soon-to-be Global Foundries in VT which not only shames our state and makes VT another laughingstock at least in Dubai. I’m sure the palace is ROFLAO. I guess chief dude his higness is free to fill campaign coffers as well as anyone.

As our own businesses go belly up, high-tail it for greener pastures or stay and die a slow painful death, VTers suffer as services are cut due to fiscal mismanagement and reduced income tax revenue. While simultaneously leveraging a huge tax bill on businesses is in the offing to pay for Shummy’s no-competition insurance giveaway aka Shummycare with its multimillion no-bid contracts to planners, architects, IT firms & other six-figure parasytical functionaries of a health care plan which offers few choices & is prohibitively expensive iow – the ‘Affordable’ CA is unaffordable in VT.

And forcing everyone who receives health care in VT to be shoved in who can be except for the elite members of VT society – teachers, state & municipal employees including retirees with cushy cadillac plans which allow them to go to the finest hospitals in the country. And the rest of us are on track to also pay the bill for their “cadillac tax” which will rise millions per year.

I’m beginning to suspect as middle class & working poor Vermonters become even poorer while costs of goods & services rise there will be larger tax deduction eligibility which will account for more declining revenue. And the reason for low unemployment is very likely due to those working 2-3 jobs which could be another revenue drain due to large deductions if these are HOH w/families.  


The largest employer in VT is the State of VT and other government employees who work for municipal government as well as teachers, compensation therof comprise 80% of school budgets all of which is unsustainable — think Greece where the majority of the populus worked in the public sector — this also caused a self-perpetuating downward spiral in which ordinary citizens & business owners were so heavily taxed they simply found ways to not pay at all.

Here in VT I have heard comments that some suspect VTers who work in NH are using NH residences and those that also own homes or real-estate in NH are claiming residency 6 mo + 1 day gets one in. Unsure if there is data which could show any movement this early to back up these suspicions.

Plenty of blame to go around and Jim-equals-jobs Douglas should get plenty. However just as Obama cannot blame Bush forever Shummy also gets to wear this one due to gross mismanagement.

As Shummy fiddles — VT burns.    

6 thoughts on “Future looks grim for VT homegrown flagship — while NH store prospers

  1. Half the population of Keene – ~23.4k (2013 data) vs ~12k (2000 data) it’s worse if we use 2010 at 7400 or so.

    Brat has NO college within easy walking distance of it’s downtown

    The store in Bellows Falls?

    What? Bellows falls has a population of around 3,000.

    How many pair of long underwear and muck boots and tents and snowshoes can a local buy to support stores that close together?

  2. I lived in Putney. Worked in Brat. Rode my bike down 5 almost every day. Bought the snowshoes I hiked camels hump with on Friday at Sam’s back in 2005. Many clothes and other purchases there, as well as at my local coop.

    Keene has a college population, and major retail all over nearby downtown. It’s a different animal than Brat. And way different than BF. Regardless of how you slice Rockingham.

    I don’t think you can lay this on the feet of any politician without looking at cheap cars and fuel, and sprawl contributing to folks shopping further from home.

    Then there is the rise of online retailers that can deliver goods to my door (in a day or two or three if I want) for far less stress than me driving to Williston and shopping for it at one of the boxes.

    I can’t say I’d want to have the tax structure of NH. You pay the piper one way or the other.  

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