After college at BC, I went into the Peace Corps returning to the world from Tanzania three years later to face the reality of finding a job. A couple of twists and turns, and I found myself working as a purchasing expeditor for Honeywell as the company attempted to shift from manufacturing and selling heating systems into what was then called the first "mini-computers". It was a brave attempt that failed when a little local company called Digital Equipmentdid it better. Most of the time I've come to learn that the phrase "first mover advantage" is a startup myth more often eclipsed by the truer phrase that "most pioneers get shot in the back."
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In my tiny town (pop. 735) in Vermont...called Winhall by the state and Bondville by the feds...there are only three bastions of commerce:
- the 7/11 gas station which doubles as a state liquor store
- the brand new Ace Hardware store branded "Lincoln Maples Hardware" to countrify it
- and the decades-old Winhall General Store
I've lived in this valley for a very long time with five generations before me, and over the years I've seen many owners of the general store come and go. There were a few serious Vermonters back in the day, lots of city folk who were looking to own "a little slice of Vermont" , but lasted only a couple of wicked cold winta's, and then there's Lorraine.
Like many, Lorraine came for the skiing and the beauty of Vermont and stayed to successfully build the business and support the town. She's done a remarkably consistent job of paying attention to the local Vermonters looking for coffee and a solid sandwich while knowing how to cater to the weekend flatlanders form New York and Jersey.
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