North Hero, Vt. - Perhaps you’ve driven your car (or your boat…) to Hero’s Welcome in North Hero, Vermont.
Hero’s Welcome general store has been open for almost a quarter century and the owners are getting ready to move on. The iconic shop on Route 2 is for sale.
Hero’s Welcome sits 50 feet from the shore of Lake Champlain, which is one reason the founder and chief executive Robert Camp said it is truly unique.
“One of the neat things about this store is that many many people… hundreds and hundreds come by water,” Camp said.
Camp has lead a largely successful career in the retail game with “CEO of Pier One Imports” listed on his resume. He said running Hero’s Welcome was his “retirement project”.
"If you'd asked me 24 years ago if we'd still be doing this I'd say ‘oh no’," Camp laughed.
Camp is thinking it’s time for someone new to take over as his 75th birthday approaches.
"I've spent 55 or 60 years in retailing,” Camp said. “That's all I've ever done. I love the business and I really have second thoughts about leaving it, but I think it's time to find new owners that are younger."
The new owners would have a lot to live up to. Camp said he runs an untraditional business with more than 800 vendors. He added it runs on a complex business model and most work is done using a number 2 pencil.
Perhaps the biggest challenge new owners would face is keeping the store the same, as it holds a special place in many hearts.
“That was my dream job… to work here,” Gabrielle Timms said.
Timms is 16-years-old and grew up down the road from Hero’s Welcome. With fond memories, she like many customers have worries about new ownership.
"All the locals come here and talk here in the morning with coffee and donuts and it's a really important spot,” Timms said. “If something were to change about that it would be difficult for everyone to see."
Camp assures there is nothing to worry about.
"It's more important for us to find the right owners than to get the right price,” he said.
Camp is looking for someone that will take good care of the legacy they’ve built.
"If we can't-- we'll probably be here for a good while more until we fall over," Camp said as he laughed.
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