The Community to open a store

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BELLOWS FALLS — A new store featuring locally-made personal care products and organic produce will open in the vacant Rockingham Town Hall storefront in downtown Bellows Falls.

The Common Sense Store, featuring Green Mountain and Common Sense soaps, which are made by The Community in Westminster LLC, a group living at the Basin Farm in Westminster, will open in April. The store will also include other items made by The Community, including bread and woodworking items.

The Rockingham Select Board agreed to a two-year lease, with an option for a third year, during last Tuesday night's regular meeting. The monthly rent was set at $755.

Yobhel Brosseau and Netzer Racine outlined their project for the Select Board, saying the store would be an outlet and showcase for three local businesses based at the Basin Farm, which also includes Commonwealth Construction and Millwork.

"The focus is on local things," said Brosseau. "We'd like to have a presence in the town."

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The two men said the store would show their products in a "professional and tasteful manner." They brought the Select Board a wooden crate, made in their shop, full of the various products that will be for sale: Common Sense shampoo, soap, lotion and conditioner, among other things.

And they said that in addition to their organic produce, grown in Westminster, they would also be selling organic produce from other local growers when they can't fill that need.

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In addition, they said there would be a small number of seats in the store for people to enjoy "a cup of tea and a pastry," and that sandwiches would also be sold there - but made at a different location.

In a proposal to the Select Board, they said they have considered not serving coffee, because Rockingham Roasters is expected to open its cafe very soon across the street.

All the store fixtures and displays will be manufactured at the millwork shop in North Walpole, N.H., they said.

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Select Board Chairman Peter Golec noted that The Community at one time operated a restaurant in downtown Bellows Falls.

The storefront is currently occupied by Main Street Arts as a costume shop for its upcoming production of Cabaret. Main Street Arts also used the same space last fall for its costume shop for "The Secret Garden," and during the Christmas season, a local man opened a holiday gift shop there but closed after Christmas.

Gary Fox, the Rockingham development director, said another area business had also been interested in leasing the spot, but pulled out at the last minute.

The space hasn't been used full time for about a year, when Cafe 7 closed in December 2018.

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