Last month, the sole resident of Buford, Wyo., put the town up for auction. Bidding has closed, and the community, located between Laramie and Cheyenne, has an official new owner.
In his first-ever trip to the United States, Vietnamese businessman Pham Dinh Nguyen visited Buford not as a tourist, but as a potential buyer. He outbidded his competitors with a whopping $900,000 and now the town belongs to him, the Associated Press reports. Nguyen heads a trade and distribution company in Ho Chi Minh City and said he plans to use the Wyoming town to sell Vietnamese-made products.
“Frankly, I just see Buford as part of the United States: A large and potential market for Vietnamese goods,” he told Vietnamese state-controlled media. “Buford is likely to be the showroom for such goods.”
Nguyen, 38, has already garnered quite a bit of attention, particularly from fellow citizens of Vietnam, who’ve praised him for revealing a side of Vietnam that’s moved beyond poverty and war, the AP reports.
Buford is located in southern Wyoming, just off Interstate 80 and about 30 miles west of the capital city of Cheyenne. The town’s previous inhabitant and self-proclaimed mayor was 60-year-old Don Sammons, who ran a general store called the Buford Trading Post. On April 5, he began auctioning off Buford’s 10 acres of land, along with the general store and its adjacent gas station, a 1905 schoolhouse, a garage and a cabin.
Nguyen has put down $100,000 and has 30 days to complete the payment. While some have celebrated his purchase, others have criticized it, arguing that he should have invested domestically to create jobs for his countrymen. Though he plans to extend his business into the United States, he has yet to establish any concrete goals.
“To be honest, I do not have a specific plan for the town,” Nguyen told the AP. “But I think we Vietnamese should not feel inferior. Nothing is impossible!”