ELY, Nev. (AP) -- With this remote town near the Utah border set to lose its only department store next summer, Ely officials are scrambling to find a replacement.
They have set an Oct. 7 deadline for entrepeneurs to submit letters of intent to city hall.
Officials want to find out whether there's any interest in opening a new store to replace the J.C. Penney store, which is set to close next July 31 in the town 320 miles east of Reno.
The letters of intent are a chance for entrepreneurs to offer a plan for the type of merchandise they will sell, the square footage of the store and other details.
"We will see if they know what they're doing or if they need help and we can take it from there," Mayor Bob Miller told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Without the Penney store, Ely residents face the prospect of driving 180 miles to Elko for clothing and other items. The Ely store opened in 1910 as The Golden Rule, the chain's original name.
Miller has organized a committee to explore options. The first is to keep Penney's, but Miller now acknowleges that "I doubt we can really do that."
The other options include encouraging entrepreneurs to open a store, convincing another chain to come to Ely or forming a community cooperative to run a store, Miller said.
On July 30, the Texas-based J.C. Penney Corp. announced plans to close the Ely store Oct. 25 because the store had failed to meet profit goals.
After a public outcry and intervention by Miller and Gov. Kenny Guinn, the company first extended the closing date to Jan. 10 and then to July 31.
Officials say the store is Nevada's oldest Penney store and could be the oldest continuously operated store in the chain.