Friday December 14, 2012

NEAL P. GOSWAMI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A small, locally owned gun store alongside a gas station will be closing down on Monday after nearly 40 years in business.

Charlie Wells, owner of the Charles H Wells Guns & Ammo Shop on Northside Drive is currently wrapping up a retirement sale. He said he plans to close his businesses on Monday.

The store has been a staple for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. Wells declined to be interviewed for this story, but provided a short letter he sent to patrons of his store. The letter acknowledges the connections his customers had with the store, as well as his connection to the customers.

"It has been an honor and a pleasure to operate the gas station and gun shop in Bennington. Many of you started shopping as children with your parents, and grew up here; as did my own children. I value the relationships formed with you as well as your continued support to our small business," Wells wrote.

The gas station was affiliated with Mobil for many years before recently becoming an Irving filling station.

Wells said he has sold the property to developer Jonathan Levy, who owns the adjacent Monument Plaza shopping center. Town officials said on Thursday that no property transfer records have been submitted yet, however.

Levy is looking to double the size of the Walmart store in the plaza.


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Negotiations are ongoing with the Vermont Natural Resources Council and a local citizens group, who have appealed the permits granted to Levy for the project. It's unclear how Levy will use the property acquired from Wells. He did not return an email Thursday seeking comment.

Alan George, Levy's Rutland-based attorney for the Walmart project, said Levy has long sought to acquire the property. "It's long been considered a property that should be acquired if it were to become available, just because of its proximity to the entrance," George said.

Wells, in his letter to customers, said he looks forward to spending time with his family, but will miss tending to the store.

"I can't thank you enough for the memories and support over the years. As much as I am going to enjoy the time with my grandchildren, I will miss all of you. I treasure the friendships that I have gained with many of you," Wells wrote.