Later this month, the 66-year-old Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury plans to open a second store closer to the town’s food co-op and grocery store plaza, Ollie’s Other Place. The grand opening for what the website jokingly refers to as the bookstore’s “pet project” – it’s named for owner Becky Dayton’s dog, a Standard Poodle – will take place on November 28, Small Business Saturday/Indies First Day.
Ollie’s will stock educational games and toys, along with gifts for baby showers and birthday parties, and, of course, classic books and gift titles for newborns through tweens. Among the lines it will carry are: HABA, YOXO, Keva Planks, Pirasta, Folkmanis, and Tenzi. The bookstore will move many of its children’s sidelines to the nearly 1,000 sq. ft. store and fill the space it frees up in the children’s section in the book shop with more books, both children’s and young adult titles.
Although Dayton owns both stores, she calls Ollie’s a collaborative effort with the bookstore’s sales and marketing manager Jenny Lyons. “It would never have come to life the way it has without Jenny’s superior background in bookstores,” said Dayton. Before joining the staff at the Vermont Book Shop two summers ago, Lyons held similar positions at The King’s English Book Store in Salt Lake City and at Northshire Book Store in Manchester Center, Vt.
“We really felt there was an opening for a shop like this in town,” said Lyons. “And, in fact, a current bookstore customer has already e-mailed us with her thanks and excitement, saying, ‘I have been trying to explain to my kids the importance of shopping locally and supporting our community. And this will definitely help drive home my lessons.’ ”
Dayton’s decision to open a second bookstore comes at a time when Middlebury’s downtown, where her bookstore is located, faces three years of construction to replace the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges. The construction could start in January. As Dayton told the local newspaper, the Addison Independent, the new store provides “a good insurance policy should upcoming construction... prove a significant hardship for shoppers.”