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Thread: No More Parking at Lowes Store

  1. #16
    Member JToll's Avatar
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    When I paid my parking fee the gentleman at the counter said the money went for plowing the lot in the winter.
    NH 4K: 48/48, VT 4K: 5/5, NY 4K: 2/46

  2. #17
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    These small independent convenience operations have been fading out as long as I have been in the area. Seasonal business just cannot keep most of these places afloat and the local populations are dropping. Most of the gas operations are there to drive traffic with minimal profit and the safety and environmental regulations for maintaining pumps is quite high. Many of the stores with pumps could not afford the cost to upgrade and as the deadlines approached the equipment was removed. There is usually an environmental spill of some sort when the old tanks are pulled and unless its already done most banks will not lend to a new owner due to the potential liability. Stores need to be open 7 days a week 12 plus hours a day and that requires staff. Randolph has 300 year round residents and very few are ideal candidates to run the store as employees. The local papers are full of ads for low paid seasonal worker with no benefits. That means the owner, his spouse or if he is lucky his kids are going to be living in the store. About the only buyers of these stores seem to be immigrant families like the family that bought the store in Bethlehem a few years back and the family that owns the store in North Woodstock. If there is traffic and volume a regional or national chain with a gasoline contract builds a location and grabs all the volume (Blue Canoe/Irving or Cumberland Farm). At best the independents earn a wage working long hours for minimal pay for themselves instead of working for others. Generally their retirement is funded by what they can sell the business for. Every so often I see commercial listings for the area and many of the same stores have been sale for years. Inevitably they sell either owner financed or at a substantial discount.

    The only business model that seems to keep these places alive is that the community gets together and buys the place, fixes it up and then finds a couple to run it. Since its run as a community store, it tends to attract enough local business since the locals have equity in it. Randolph is a seasonal town and about half the year round population lives off on Randolph hill road. They are about as close to Gorham as Lowes. The seasonal population is similar about half are closer to Gorham by road and the other half are quite spread out. Therefore I just do not see Lowes having a great commercial value despite its long term historical association with the area.

  3. #18
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Perhaps one approach to make the numbers add for the community ownership model, would be to envision it as existing primarily to service the hiking community. Convert some number or all of the cabins to hiker hostel level accommodations (which would lower upkeep) and re-orient the store to last-minute hiker supplies and foods.

    I would not want to pull the RMC (decades long member) towards a mini-northern Pinkham Notch Visitors' Center...

    But maybe I'm suggesting that.

    Honestly, if there were a place at the foot the Northern Presis where I would roll in by car late Thursday or Friday night, crash in a heated room, grab a cup of coffee and breakfast sandwich in the morning, pay for weekend parking, come back to a few days later, maybe grab a quick hot shower and cold beer and munchies...

    I would definitely keep the name. Turn the store into a mini-museum of the RMC... Just thinking out loud with other people's money and time...

    EDITED to ADD: Perhaps work a deal with Ragged Mtn to manage the hiker supply counter space....
    Last edited by dave.m; 03-31-2021 at 03:52 PM.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

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  4. #19
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    FWIW There was a debate within the RMC when the Stearn's Lodge trail crew facility was built to add some capability for overnight lodgers. There were individuals that probably would have funded the cost but it opened up a fundamental problem that RMC is a volunteer run organization. They do have a paid seasonal trail crew, two seasonal caretakers and a trail crew leader but they are all seasonal positions. To go any further there would be the need to hire a manager. The economics of the club would radically change and it would have to grow much larger and access new revenue sources just to break even. Sure a special person, like a retiree may step up and do it for free or at some minimal cost but once the commitment is made, then the club is on the hook for the long term. Those special people do not grow on trees so the club needs to be ready to fill the position with a qualified person that doesn't have the luxury of working for free or at reduced rate.

  5. #20
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    Most depressing finish to a hike was coming down of Adams and looking at Lowe's store the entire way down and drooling over the beer I had planned. We got into the store...I wandered about looking for the beer cooler, and finally asked "Where's your beer?"

    "Randolph's a dry town!" was the reply.

    Not what a college kid needs to hear.......

  6. #21
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    The claim by locals is there is only one store in town and the owner was not interested in getting a liquor license so they kept the town "dry". Alan Lowe the owner was the long term constable for the town until recently. My guess is the liability insurance is much higher for a store that sells alcohol?. No doubt if a new owner wanted a license the town would vote to support them. Note its perfectly legal to bring alcohol into town for local consumption.

  7. #22
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    FWIW There was a debate within the RMC when the Stearn's Lodge trail crew facility was built to add some capability for overnight lodgers. There were individuals that probably would have funded the cost but it opened up a fundamental problem that RMC is a volunteer run organization. They do have a paid seasonal trail crew, two seasonal caretakers and a trail crew leader but they are all seasonal positions. To go any further there would be the need to hire a manager. The economics of the club would radically change and it would have to grow much larger and access new revenue sources just to break even. Sure a special person, like a retiree may step up and do it for free or at some minimal cost but once the commitment is made, then the club is on the hook for the long term. Those special people do not grow on trees so the club needs to be ready to fill the position with a qualified person that doesn't have the luxury of working for free or at reduced rate.
    What you say makes perfect sense and is a very wise insight by the club.

    That said, there really isn't any commercial resource for hikers along that section of Rt 2 from Gorham all the way to Twin Mountain.

    When you look at the parking problems at Appalachia, you would think that some enterprising soul would ask, what would it take for all these people to putting money into my cash register?

    The Lowes Store location would be perfect for that, but it would take a) some concerted focus on the needs of the hiker community, b) a good business plan to make it profitable year-round (e.g. perhaps Thur - Mon hours only), and c) it may be the case that the economics of villages is such that it's simply not possible.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

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  8. #23
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    If someone buys it, they buy the land underneath it also which is an issue with the old underground fuel tanks. We have a old Buick dealer right in Colchester's Downtown. It's a perfect location for a business and it's been empty since years began with a 2 and maybe a few with 19XX.
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  9. #24
    Member JToll's Avatar
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    If the hiker community is anything like me then I do not see it giving stores such as Lowes enough business. I am strictly a day hiker. In 14 years of hiking I have only stopped at Lowes twice. I stop at Fosters in Twin Mountain maybe 4 or 5 times a year. Pre Covid I would stop at Panera in Concord for dinner. Now it is fast-food drive in. I think a store really needs community business to survive . Martys in Danville Vt on Route 2 is a good example of a thriving local store.
    NH 4K: 48/48, VT 4K: 5/5, NY 4K: 2/46

  10. #25
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    What you say makes perfect sense and is a very wise insight by the club.

    That said, there really isn't any commercial resource for hikers along that section of Rt 2 from Gorham all the way to Twin Mountain.

    When you look at the parking problems at Appalachia, you would think that some enterprising soul would ask, what would it take for all these people to putting money into my cash register?

    The Lowes Store location would be perfect for that, but it would take a) some concerted focus on the needs of the hiker community, b) a good business plan to make it profitable year-round (e.g. perhaps Thur - Mon hours only), and c) it may be the case that the economics of villages is such that it's simply not possible.
    The beauty of the RMC and the surrounding area is it's rusticness and lack of commercialism. It's amazing the resourcefulness of The RMC especially when it comes to fiscal operations. Lowes store IMO would never fit their model. Consider this: Their overall operating budget is not much more than half of what The CEO of the AMC pulls in for a salary each year. Scroll to page 10 on this link for the numbers. https://www.randolphmountainclub.org...Newsletter.pdf
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by JToll View Post
    If the hiker community is anything like me then I do not see it giving stores such as Lowes enough business. I am strictly a day hiker. In 14 years of hiking I have only stopped at Lowes twice. I stop at Fosters in Twin Mountain maybe 4 or 5 times a year. Pre Covid I would stop at Panera in Concord for dinner. Now it is fast-food drive in. I think a store really needs community business to survive . Martys in Danville Vt on Route 2 is a good example of a thriving local store.
    I agree with the example of Marty's in Danville. My wife and I have often discussed how some of our immediate surrounding areas would benefit from a combined retail and local flavor featured facility might be, as it seems sorely lacking in this area. Allen Brothers down in Westminster VT did an exceptional job with this by combining a convenience store, farm stand, exceptional quality deli/bakery, local crafts and local food/drink, well-stocked beer store, and plant nursery in one...oh yeah gas also. There is also an interesting wetland complex behind the place that for me creates a feeling of comfort. We actually have relied on them for spring vegetable plant starts, and our fall pumpkin's in the past (from Bethlehem) - keeping in mind we have dear friends nearby that we visit.

    So yeah for locals as well as travelers, a big welcoming parking lot, local flavor aesthetic drawing you in. A number of combined services/attractions in one place can be a destination in of itself. Kind of like the new rest areas in Hooksett on 93. Are they still new?
    Last edited by Andrew; 04-02-2021 at 07:33 AM. Reason: "Are they still new?"

  12. #27
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    IMO, a paved spot with electrical hookups and porta potties and space for several food trucks would be ideal for hiker traffic.

  13. #28
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    IMO, a paved spot with electrical hookups and porta potties and space for several food trucks would be ideal for hiker traffic.
    As much as a good corn dog or slice of pie would taste this seems rather unaesthetic from a Randolphian point of view.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  14. #29
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    A few locals over the years pointed out the subtleties of Randolph, anything west of Cutter properties on Durand Road (roughly west of the Sargent Path) are regarded as the outskirts of town with the cluster of homes in West Randolph regarded as barely part of Randolph (the former town dump was located on that end of town. Lowe's is actually in the outskirts but maintains its cred due to Lowes Path. To be truly part of Randolph society, someones "camp" should be within the cluster of paths that radiated out from the Ravine House Site and east along Durand road up to Randolph Hill road and preferably in a succession of family owners back to the founding days of the hiking in the town. There is definitely a tongue an cheek aspect to this class distinction but to some residents, its far more important. Thus continued commercial activity at Lowe's would probably be accepted if not welcomed.

  15. #30
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    IMO, a paved spot with electrical hookups and porta potties and space for several food trucks would be ideal for hiker traffic.
    Why aren't there more/any food trucks at trail heads?? My wife and I talk about this whenever we are up there. Seems like an absolute no-brainer on FRI/SAT/SUN and holiday weekends. Are there permit/legal issues for food trucks in NH?
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