H.N. Williams opens new addition, gas pumps

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DORSET — A 3,200-square-foot addition to the family owned H.N. Williams Store, a community mainstay that dates to the 19th century, opened for business on Friday.

The general store, located at 2732 Route 30, has also installed gasoline pumps and a 24-hour, drive-thru ATM, both of which opened recently.

The expansion project — from conception to permitting to construction — has progressed over nearly three years, according to Billy Brownlee, an owner of the store. "For us, it's a big deal," he said.

The new post-and-beam barn includes space for apparel, wine shelves, and a beverage bar that serves espresso drinks, smoothies, milkshakes and ice cream. A wall of refrigerated cases near the entrance allows the store to expand its craft beer and grab-and-go offerings, Brownlee said.

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The building's construction required the demolition of a machine shop once operated by Brownlee's uncle. Salvaged wood from the shop and from an "endless supply of pallets" that the store accrues because of various products it carries, Brownlee said, was used as a kind of finish throughout the new space.

"We love reclaimed wood," he said.

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The gas pumps offer a new convenience for Dorset residents, who, according to Brownlee, were "literally making special trips all the way to Manchester." The pumps may also help boost "foot traffic" at the store, he said.

Dennis Brownlee, Billy's father, performed "the ceremonial first fill-up" at one of the pumps, which opened Oct. 11, according to a Facebook post.

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The store has nearly doubled its staff to more than 20 part- and full-time employees, Billy Brownlee said.

Some construction, including work related to the building's exterior, still needs to be completed, according to Brownlee, who said a ceremony marking the changes likely will be held sometime in the future.

"We're fortunate that we have a lot of retail experience, and we have a very loyal following," he said.

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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