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Emerson reorganizes, plans re-opening


April 28, 2010
GROVETON — "78 years. We've always gone forward. It's the first step backwards," said 74-year-old Jim Emerson of Emerson and Sons Hardware and Lumberyard. Mr. Emerson commented on the businesses 100-day closure that will hopefully see a restocking of the store's merchandise. The Groveton mainstay — which has been in operation since 1932 — is a taking a hiatus while they submit an application for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The store has fallen on hard times since the collapse of the paper mills in town and the recent failure of their expansion to Emerson Outdoor Outfitters just down the street.

"What we're trying to accomplish is getting back to the old Emerson's before we had this deal up the road and lost it," said Mr. Emerson, pointing up the road to where the vacant Emerson's Outfitters building still sits. "The bank took that away. That's what drained this business because this business was liable for a lot of the expenses of that business."

"We'll reorganize — starting from scratch, though," explained Mr. Emerson. "We're going back to our old slogan, 'If we don't have it, you don't need it.' We had that for a long time. That and, 'If you can't find it anywhere else, go to Emerson's.'"

The store has been present in downtown Groveton since Jim Emerson's father, Ralph, opened the shop — in a different location — during the Great Depression.

"Besides running the store, he'd fix windows and doors and keys, painted signs," said Mr. Emerson. "Anything to make a buck."

A string of fires in the sixties caused the operation to move buildings twice before buying Taylor's Market and settling into its current incarnation in a big, brown barn on State Street. The business has been a staple in the community ever since. The self-imposed hiatus is projected to last as long as the four-month process for processing CDGB grants usually takes.

"There's no sense in being open because there's not much to sell. So, hopefully somewhere around the first of August, we'll reopen with bigger and better things," said Mr. Emerson during the midst of the three-day sale at the end of last week that saw all merchandise in the store marked down one-third.

"I call it an inventory reduction sale. They call it a 'Going Back Into Business Sale,'" laughed the owner, referring to the duo who is helping to apply for the grant: Stewart Gates of the Small Business Development Center, Beno Lamontagne of the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development. Also assisting by lending money are the N.H. Community Development Loan Fund, Jim Tibbets of the First Colebrook Bank, Jon Freeman of Northern Community Investment Corporation, Bill Andreas of the Business Enterprise Development organization, and Peter Riviere of the Coos Economic Development Corporation.

These are just a few of the many from around the town and state who have offered their support for Emerson's.

"We're getting a lot of support from the community," said Mr. Emerson. "We tell them we want to close, and they say, 'We can't wait until you open up again.'"

Mr. Emerson plans to reopen the store by August 1.

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