“DeSanto was delighted, if surprised, to be greeted by a group of some of the city’s major players.”
One day in November, 2014, Mike DeSanto, co-owner of a pair of independent bookstores in Vermont, took a call from Steve Costello, vice president of Green Mountain Power and a key individual in the effort to revitalize Rutland. The city was in the midst of a recovery, pivoting from an industrial past to a knowledge-and-innovation future, but there had been a setback. The downtown’s long-standing bookstore had recently closed, and, for all kinds of reasons, a healthy downtown really needs a good bookstore. Could DeSanto, who had success with a community-supported business model, come to Rutland to talk?
Two days later, DeSanto drove to Rutland for a meeting. He was delighted, if surprised, to be greeted by a group of some of the city’s major players, including Mayor Chris Louras, Mike Coppinger from the Downtown Rutland Partnership, and Mark Foley Jr., a local property owner and developer. DeSanto recalls: “They proceeded to tell me, ‘This is why a bookstore will work in Rutland. And here’s what we can do for you.’”
On the table were a number of incentives: a list of 31 people willing to do a book pre-buy at $1,000 each; a $10,000 grant from the Downtown Rutland Partnership; free membership and $1,500 in advertising from the chamber of commerce; and help locating a storefront from Foley, who was offering a below-market rental rate and a customized space in a prime location.
The final piece of the puzzle — DeSanto needed a minority partner who lived in the community — stepped forward in the person of Tricia Huebner, who had served on the boards of the Rutland Free Library and the Paramount Theatre, and her husband, Tom. “The bookstore totally lines up with everything I value in life,” says Tricia. “I love talking about books, recommending books, and buying books. And I love Rutland. It’s a little-engine-that-could town.”