Phoenix Books will open a 2,400-square-foot store in downtown Rutland by September. City officials say it's the latest step in collaborative efforts to revitalize the city.
Michael DeSanto and his wife Renee Reiner own two Phoenix bookstores — one in Essex and one in Burlington. DeSanto says he was pleasantly surprised when Steve Costello, of Green Mountain Power, called him saying Rutland wanted a bookstore too.
Costello and the utility were instrumental in encouraging Small Dog Electronics to come to Rutland in 2012.
But startup capital for the bookstore was an obstacle, so the Rutland community put their money where their mouth was and more than 50 local residents and business owners agreed to pre-buy $1,000 worth of books and merchandise to encourage Phoenix to open a local store.
DeSanto says that made it much easier to sign a five-year lease on what he calls "fabulous" retail space on the corner of Merchant’s Row and Center Street, in a portion of the former Sunapee Bank Building. “It's been an exciting thing because it’s like I sense when I come down here that the whole community is involved in wanting a book store and wants to buy books from now into the future,” says DeSanto.
The bookstore will be directly across from the new Wonderfeet Children’s Museum and a few doors down from the Paramount Theatre. DeSanto says they hope to open by September first.
Rutland resident and local business owner Tom Calcagny calls his $1,000 pre-buy money well spent, saying it supports a new bookstore and the downtown as a whole.