MIDDLEBURY According to businessman Larry Duffany, owner of popular Ben Franklin variety stores in Middlebury and Fair Haven, Vt., his 71-year-old Middlebury operation is up for sale. His parents, Layton and Elvira Duffany, bought the Middlebury store in 1943. Layton Duffany was a Shoreham native. The Ben Franklin store first opened in Middlebury in 1937. Ben Franklin Stores are a chain of classic five and dime discount stores found in small towns throughout the United States. They are organized using a franchise system with individual stores owned by independent proprietors. It was the nations first retail franchise starting in 1927. They are named after American statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin. Competition from big-box stores and dollar stores have forced several Ben Franklin stores to close in recent years. Wal-Mart founder, Sam Walton, got his start in retailing as an operator of a Ben Franklin store. The original Ben Franklin corporation went into bankruptcy in 1996 under Chapter 11. The old corporate firm has since been liquidated. Todays Ben Franklin franchises are owned by Promotions Unlimited, a family owned business based in Racine, Wis. Duffanys Middlebury store is pictured as the iconic Ben Franklin store in the Internets Wikipedia encyclopedia article titled Ben Franklin Stores. Ben Franklin stores remain in Randolph, Fair Haven, and Burlington. A Burlington North End Ben Franklin store closed last year. Duffany hopes that a new buyer will retain the Ben Franklin moniker, although it is impossible to predict just what a new buyer will do. The Fair Haven store will remain open for the time being, Duffany said. I want to slow down. I turned 65 not too long ago and I cant do this forever. I want to do some other things.