For some, owning a house or piece of land is the ultimate dream. While most people work throughout their lives to make their dreams come true, there are others who live life like a fairytale. Maddie and Neal Love are two such people. In 2010, they made their dream come true by becoming proud owners of not just a house, gas station or cafe, but an entire town. The town, Wauconda, in Washington, was purchased by the two and it came with its own post office, store, cafe and a personal ZIP code. Here is their story.
Wauconda was first put on eBay on March 3, 2008, with the following posting: “Why buy a house when you can OWN YOUR OWN TOWN! Own the Post Office, OWN YOUR OWN ZIP CODE … Single owner is tired and ready to retire … VERY LOW RESERVE PRICE OF $359,000 … Please bid only if you will honor it. … “
Wauconda came into existence in 1896 after the three Hedge brothers from Wauconda, IL, discovered a wide ledge of quartz carrying gold. After claiming the land, the brothers established the town of Wauconda, which was named after their home town. When news about the discovery of gold got out, prospectors from around the country raced to the newly found town in search of a shimmering life. By 1898, a considerable amount of people had moved in, which was the reason for grocery stores, three crude hotels, four saloons and other small businesses to form in the town.
By 1901, the town boasted a population of 300 and even a newly built post office. The same year, the town of Wauconda was finally listed on the map. When the gold rush began, there were 4 patented mines and 18 un-patented ones, that was mining gold in bulk. The community was soon thriving since tons of gold was being recovered on an annual basis. By 1904, however, the mines started showing signs of depletion, which forced the people to abandon the entire town, pack their bags, and move on with their life.
For over a century, the town survived thanks to the newly built Highway 20 and travelers who passed by. By early 2000’s, it had a gas station, a store, the post office; which was still operational and a cafe.
In 1929, the State Highway 20 was built. This was the reason that the town had to be shifted in 1936, to its current location; which is next to the highway and the Toroda Creek Road. After the mines were depleted, most people left. Some however, chose to stay behind and become ranchers, raising cattle and farming. In 2007, Daphne Fletcher, who owned a property next to Wauconda, had to pass through the small town everyday to get to her workplace. Fletcher, who was working for a local candy and tobacco distribution company, would stop at the general store on her way to work.
During this time, she would talk to the owners of the town, who expressed their interest in selling it. So, in 2007, along with her mother, Fletcher purchased the town of Wauconda for $180,810. Fletcher, who was the new owner, did not understand how stressful it could be to run your own town. During its peak time, there were more than 300 residents and by 2007, it was just Fletcher, who was running the entire town. Although Fletcher was able to make more than $300,000 in revenue within just one year from the store, it started to put too much pressure on her.
“Locals stop by to pick up mail — the post office leases space and has one full-time employee — and to gas up, shop at the small store, maybe have coffee or on Fridays the all-you-can-eat $9.99 spaghetti and meatballs,” The Seattle Times reports.
Fletcher managed all the activities of the town for more than two years until she had enough. So, she listed the town for sale on eBay.
When Fletcher first listed the town for sale on eBay, her listing went unnoticed. So, she decided to list it once again and the second time, her listing was found by CNN. When CNN reported their finding, it garnered more attention than Fletcher could imagine. At first, fletcher wanted to sell the property for $1 million. However, people found it to be a bit too much, so she brought the price to $400,000. Finally, when she brought the price down to $359,000, many people started to place bids. Fletcher’s ad read:
“Why buy a house when you can OWN YOUR OWN TOWN! Own the Post Office, OWN YOUR OWN ZIP CODE … Single owner is tired and ready to retire … VERY LOW RESERVE PRICE OF $359,000 … Please bid only if you will honor it. …”
Even though a man named David Broadbent placed the highest bid, $370,601, and won the listing, he did not follow through with buying the town. So, a couple named Maddie and Neal Love, who were the second highest bidders, received the town.
In 2010, Maddie and Neal Love became the proud owners of Wauconda. The couple, who were unemployed at the time, thought that it would be a great investment. So, they sold all of their possessions to purchase the town. While it might sound ridiculous for some, what Maddie and Neal did was smart. People who use Highway 20, make a pit stop at their store to pump gas, get refreshments and purchase any other needs. This brings in plenty of revenue for the couple, who are managing the entire town by themselves.
When Maddie and Neil struck the deal for $360,000, Fletcher received $1,000 more than she bargained for. The Love’s were overjoyed with their investment, since they suddenly became the proud owners of a restaurant, a post office, a gas station, a four-bedroom apartment, and their very own postal code – 98859. Although the Love’s were happy in their own little town, things didn’t quite work out as they had planned. In 2015, Neil received a good offer from a large company, which not only provided him with a steady job, but also a good paycheck. So, the couple put the town up for sale once again and has been listed for sale ever since.
This is not the first time an entire town has been listed for sale. Monse, another town in the same state, was on the auction block for years.
The town of Monse was up for sale for years but no one was willing to buy it. So, it was sold off block by block. Another town called Albert, in Texas, is also up for auction on eBay. The town, which was established in the 1900’s, is listed for $1,890,000.
A virtual ghost town, Albert currently contains a dance hall and ice house. Albert Dance Hall was built in 1922 by Max Beckman and is 4,480 square feet, complete with hardwood dance floor, stage, stage lighting, bar and seating areas. The 12+ acres allows plenty of room for a small vineyard and production facility, which means that someone who is familiar with farming or vinery will find it to be a great investment.