For as long as I remember, there has been an old yellow house right next to Leader Home Center in South Deerfield. This is one of the most important businesses in our small downtown and they have an interesting history. Back in the 1990s, the owner, Grant Gagnon, called the store Elder Lumber, and he had the idea that expanding to a very large space would be a good idea. So the little narrow store moved into what was once the Yankee Candle Car Museum, and it expanded to about ten times its current size. Today, Millitech and another businesses occupy this giant metal building.
But after Grant sold the chain of stores in Amherst and Deerfield to Leader Home Centers, and retired, it was decided pretty quickly that this store was just way too big. And eventually the store was moved back into the original smaller building, parallel to the railroad tracks, and it remains there today. I saw some plans a few years ago that showed a new store configured parallel with Elm Street, and this house was right where the new store would be located. Every time I go into the store, I ask the staff about the new store and the demolition plans. Nobody ever really knows anything. The chain’s owner lives part of the year in Thailand, and is busy with four other locations so nobody ever has a clear idea of what the timeline is. But Jeff Bridges did say that for now the extra room next door will be used for storage.
But today, anyway, there is great progress on this eventuality. The yellow house has been torn down, and it will be loaded into a few gigantic semi trailers and taken down to a recycling center in West Springfield, where the metal, wood and other debris will be sorted and re-used in some way. Whether it’s a year or two before the new store is built is anyone’s guess. But at least this empty house is no longer standing in the way of progress in downtown South Deerfield.