A Town in New York Creates Its Own Department Store - NYTimes.com
Shares in the store, priced at $100 each, were marketed to local residents as a way to “take control of our future and help our community,” said Melinda Little, a Saranac Lake resident who has been involved in the effort from the start. “The idea was, this is an investment in the community as well as the store.”
It took nearly five years — the recession added to the challenge — but the organizers reached their $500,000 goal last spring. By then, some 600 people had chipped in an average of $800 each. And so, on Oct. 29, as an early winter storm threatened the region, the Saranac Lake Community Store opened its doors to the public for the first time. By 9:30 in the morning, the store, in a former restaurant space on Main Street opposite the Hotel Saranac, was packed with shoppers, well-wishers and the curious.
This is what "voluntary" looks like. Real people make a real decision to commit $100 per share to start their own real community department store. It is essentially the 180 degree opposite of the corporate paternalism that brings so-called "community associations" into existence. Without the paternalism, we would have a much smaller number of common interest housing developments, but they would be real.