The residents of Elmore, Vermont are urging the U.S. Postal Service to renew its contract with The Elmore Store, which assumed new ownership in early January, the Associated Press reports.
The post office at the back of the store serves fewer than 1,000 people. But it is a beloved town resource, and residents do not want to see it close next month.
“It would mean I’d have to drive an extra 8 miles,” Randi Barrett told the New England Cable News while buying eggs and dropping off a piece of mail on Tuesday. “This store is really about community.”
So on Tuesday, local residents and elected officials gathered for a rally in front of the store.
“That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen,” U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) told the assembled crowd of the possible closure.
Postal Service Says It Is Negotiating With New Owners of Vermont Store
Also present at the rally were representatives from the offices of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). They told locals they were pushing the Postal Service to sign a new deal with the storekeepers.
Meanwhile, the Postal Service claims it is not planning to close the post office. It is, however, negotiating a new contract with the owners who took over earlier this month.
“The business that runs this unit has recently been sold and the Postal Service is in the process of negotiating a contract with the new owner,” the Postal Service told New England Cable News in a statement. “If there is any change to service there, Post Office Box customers will be given advance notice.”
The Postal Service has said it would make free mail delivery available to residents if the post office closes. But some people say they do not want to leave their parcels outside unattended, especially in winter weather. And others prefer to rent a post office box at the store.
Residents have started a petition drive through Facebook. They say the store and the post office have become community gathering places where they rub elbows with neighbors and share updates on each other’s lives.
“What it’s really been about is about us recognizing the institutions in the community that bind us together and make us a community,” Trevor Braun of the Elmore Community Trust, which led a community-wide financing drive to maintain the store for residents, told New England Cable News. “And doing whatever it takes to protect those institutions.”