One plan to reopen the Wrightstown Country Store has flopped.
Still, another may be budding.
Wrightstown resident Tom Coates and his attorney Ed Murphy recently explained to the township Board of Supervisors that Coates is interested in buying the Country Store – a longtime Wrightstown institution – and reopening a business at the site on Route 413 (Durham Road), officials said.
While it’s unknown exactly what type of business may go there, Coates has conveyed that he’s open to a similar country store operation, shared Supervisor Chairman Chester Pogonowski.
“As part of due diligence in potentially purchasing the store and dwelling units at the site, the prospective buyer approached the township to discuss very preliminary plans,” said Pogonowski. “There would be no change to the footprint of the buildings or impervious surface under those preliminary plans. The intent would be to have a similar volume usage because of the limited parking on the property…Supervisors did not have objections to what was discussed.”
Of course, much would need to happen before any new business opened, not least of all Coates ‘buying the property and obtaining necessary approvals from the township to operate.
Nonetheless, the fact that there are signs of potential life again at the store is notable since it’s been shuttered since January 2020.
That’s when former owners Bobbie and Tom Pringle closed the business as health issues became a concern in their latter 70s. It was a sad moment for many: The Pringles had operated the Country Store for 34 years and it was a popular stop for locals and commuters alike.
Subsequently, entrepreneur Eric Kretschman bought the property and had plans that included renovating the store itself, installing a new kitchen, converting a residential unit at the site into a flower/gift shop, and possibly even adding a greenhouse.
While work reportedly began, the project ultimately withered. Kretschman no longer owns the store/property. Officials said another businessman owns the property but hasn’t presented plans for redeveloping or opening anything.
“The property is a difficult one,” explained Pogonowski. “It is only 0.77 acres, which is challenging to do an extensive project within the building outline currently there. Anytime you try to increase parking or traffic flow, you run into impervious surface and storm water management issues. A tear-down would result in a loss of non-conforming status, which means an owner would need to meet existing zoning requirements or convince the Zoning Heard Board to grant variances.”