MANCHESTER — Kilburn’s Convenience Store, a mainstay on Depot Street for more than 30 years, is under new ownership following the sale of the business and associated commercial property.
In a lengthy statement, now-former owners Doug and Cynthia Kilburn recounted the history of the business and wished the new owner — Mahavir, LLC, of Bennington, which lists as principals Raj and Shefali Patel, according to state records — “every success with their new adventure.”
In 1988 the Kilburns, who at the time were looking for a new location for their auto parts business, purchased the convenience-store property from the Sendra family, which had run a small grocery store at the Depot Street location for 26 years, according to the statement.
“We moved our auto parts store” — Doug’s Auto Parts — “into part of the building and took over running the grocery store, a business we knew nothing about,” Cynthia Kilburn said in the statement. “I fell in love with the grocery business and the constant contact with all of our local customers. The two of us worked side-by-side running the two businesses for the next 32 years.”
Last year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Kilburn’s sold surgical masks at cost. “It’s not a business move,” Cynthia Kilburn said at the time. “But it brings people in, and it’s good for the community.”
The store over the years became known as a top seller of lottery tickets in the state, according to Journal archives.
The first Powerball ticket sold in Vermont was sold at Kilburn’s in 2003.
The Kilburns said they “had only two serious offers on our commercial property” over several years after listing it as they approached retirement. “One was from a big developer from the Burlington area who wanted to flatten the corner and put in a gas station with eight pumps,” according to the statement. “The other offer was from a family group from Bennington who wanted to continue running the convenience store and rent or remodel the remaining part of the property.”
The developer eventually “changed his mind and the family from Bennington stepped up and purchased our property in January,” the Kilburns said.
Town Clerk Anita Sheldon confirmed that the Kilburns sold 508, 530, 532 and 534 Depot St., which totals nearly one acre, for a total price of $710,000 to Mahavir, LLC. The deed was dated Jan. 8 and recorded with the clerk’s office Jan. 14.
In addition to the convenience store and auto-parts space, the four contiguous parcels feature a two-story, standalone building that was occupied for years by Dufour Bath & Tile, which opted to close its showroom and operate remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic, and residential space above the convenience store, according to Cynthia Kilburn.
Reached by phone on Tuesday morning, Shefali Patel declined to comment for this article but indicated a willingness to speak about plans in the near future.
In wishing their successors well, the Kilburns acknowledged that change to the business could “be met with disappointment by many long time customers” but invoked their own experience years ago to suggest that things will work out fine eventually.
“Change does not come easy,” they wrote. “We also remember very well that the changes we made 32 years ago were also met with wariness from the (Sendras’) loyal customers. Everyone adapted and we were able to thrive.”
Cynthia Kilburn currently serves as a Justice of the Peace in Manchester, while her husband serves on the water board. Both “have served on many boards over the years,” they wrote. “This is our home and the community we love.”
“We hope the local community can embrace the likely changes and welcome the new owners,” the Kilburns concluded.