CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A small town in northeast Wyoming that features a historic mercantile building will see a change in ownership soon but not in its charm.
The couple who owns Aladdin - population 15 - have accepted an offer from a group of investors led by an Arizona businessman to buy most of the town. Rick and Judy Brengle have owned the town for 31 years.
"My husband bought it for me because all my kids were in college and I had the empty nest syndrome — and now I don't have it anymore," Judy Brengle, 73, said.
The sale to Rob DeMaranville, of Scottsdale, Arizona, and his partners will close next April, Brengle said.
DeMaranville cited his long family ties to the area, noting that he spent many summers in the area working on the family ranch and elsewhere, for his interest in buying the town.
"The goal is to keep Aladdin alive and well," he said. "And since I spent all of my summers out here, I want to protect the charm and the character of the town, but also put some new energy into it."
Brengle and DeMaranville declined to disclose a purchase price.
The town was put up for auction last summer, but Brengle said the winning bidders couldn't get the financing and the sale fell through, opening the way for DeMaranville to make an offer.
The deal involves a total of 30 acres (12 hectares) and includes a general store in a building built 125 years ago that still has the original candy bins and fixtures. A bar, post office, small trailer park, rodeo arena and a two-bedroom house are also included in the deal.
Aladdin is located near the South Dakota border and sits along a two-lane highway that leads to Devils Tower National Monument, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the west.
The town usually is quiet and peaceful, attracting tourists visiting Devils Tower. But it can get hopping during the annual motorcycle rally in nearby Sturgis, South Dakota, and during hunting season.
"If Aladdin is going to be Aladdin 20 years from now, we're going to have to make some improvements," DeMaranville said.
DeMaranville is looking to tap more into the tourist business by making some additions, such as a public restroom and a campground, and establishing an annual festival and holding weekly chuck wagon cookouts during the summer.
He emphasized that the changes won't alter the small-town character.
"Everyone we meet, they're happy a local bought it, but they also, in a roundabout way, let us know not to change it," DeMaranville said. "And that's our goal."
Brengle gave her blessing to DeMaranville's plans.
"It's still going to be our quaint little village."