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North Fairfield's only store has closed

By JOE CENTERS • Updated Feb 16, 2018 at 12:03 AM

NORTH FAIRFIELD — North Fairfield’s only store is closed.

A sign on Country Counter Market said the business is for sale. A note on the door stated those interested should call 419-744-2908 and “ask for Ann.”

There was no answer to a call the Reflector placed to that number Wednesday afternoon.

The owner of the market, Ronald C. Houghtlen Sr., died Jan. 26 in his North Fairfield home. He was 73.

Ruth and Jerry Earl live near Olena but spend a lot of their time in town with their involvement at the town’s museum. 

“We had heard from (former village administrator) Bob Morgan that it had not opened after Ron died, and probably would not,” Ruth Earl said. “It will be a major inconvenience for sure but I don’t think devastating for any families.

“It would be wonderful if someone would buy it but my guess is that Dollar General will soon be fishing for land right outside town.”

There are area Dollar General stores in Willard, New Haven, Bellevue, Greenwich, New London, Wakeman, Plymouth, Monroeville and Norwalk.

Jack Pfanner, a longtime resident of North Fairfield, said he hates to see the store close.

“The biggest mistake they ever made in this town they just never made a transition from making horseshoes to car tires,” Pfanner said. “They never had an economic plan for the village.

“They lost the North Fairfield school and there was never a reason to come to town. There never was any game plan set into motion.

“When we moved here in 1972 they had two gas stations, a bank, two grocery stores, one a part hardware store, a restaurant, a barber shop, a beauty shop and a funeral home. All of that is gone.

“Now you will have to drive about 11 miles to get anything. We are about that distance from Norwalk, Willard and New London. I really don’t see anybody starting another business in this town.”

Houghtlen, a lifelong area resident who attended Monroeville, New London and North Fairfield schools and served in the Army in Vietnam, worked at the Country Counter Market for 25 years and then purchased it from former owner Randy Garner. 

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