Community members will meet to strategize and plan for ways to save the Schoolhouse Market in East Warren. The store owners have been served notice that they must be out of the town owned building by the end of the month.The public meeting takes place Wednesday, October 17, at 7 p.m. in the Warren Town Hall where organizers promise to share the full story of the pending eviction by Rootswork of the Schoolhouse Market, answer questions, and discuss strategy for saving the store.
Larry and Linda Faillace own the store with Bruce Fowler. The Faillaces, whose sheep were seized and slaughtered by the USDA, are facing the closure of the local market they have worked for eight years to build.
"Additionally, the Warren community and the Mad River Valley is about to lose an important small business at the eastern entrance to the Valley, one which offers basic staples, locally-grown produce, artisan cheeses, and Vermont value-added products," said supporter and organizer of this effort Robert Riversong.
"Customers and friends of the Schoolhouse Market and area residents have expressed concern and outrage about this turn of events, and there is a groundswell of popular support rising to prevent what many see as unfair treatment of a family and their business by a Rootswork board of directors which has ceased to represent either its own mission or the best interests of the town and surrounding community," Riversong said.
The schoolhouse is owned by the Town of Warren, and the town select board leases it to the nonprofit Rootswork, created to support local agriculture. The select board has ultimate say over the disposition of the property. Rootswork, in turn, leases the first floor to the Schoolhouse Market for a rent of $300, and has imposed a number of other conditions during the lease renegotiation.
"The Faillaces have jumped through every hurdle put before them by Rootswork and have gone the extra mile by offering an escrow account of six months advance rent, but the Rootswork Board has refused to renew the five-year lease that any business needs in order to get small business loans and have the security to make continued investment and has seemed determined from the start to move the store out," Riversong continued.
He urged the public to learn more about this situation and to attend the October 17 meeting. He also suggested that Warren residents contact a member of the select board with their concerns, asking board members to void the lease to Rootswork if a fair lease is not offered to the market.
"If you are a member of Rootswork, contact members of the board of directors and insist they negotiate in good faith and renew the lease with the market. Send letters to the editor of <MI>The Valley Reporter<D>, call in to WMRW talk shows, and spread the word to your neighbors about this travesty and tragedy," he added.