Electronics on menu at new store
MIDDLEBURY — Sammy Barnes and Greg Alexander were looking for a business opportunity following their relocation to Addison County from the Dallas, Texas, area this past winter. They were prepared to acquire an existing store of some sort, but changed their minds after hearing the following comment from an acquaintance:
“What this town (Middlebury) needs is a kitchen store.”
Next thing they knew, they were scouting Middlebury locations for a spot in which to locate “Otter Creek Kitchenware and Electronics,” a new store that will offer a wide variety of cooking equipment and utensils, along with home entertainment products. They were able to rent a 1,300-square-foot space at 211 Maple St., in the southeast corner of the Marble Works complex. The location most recently housed the Windancer Movement Center. Tuesday saw the two partners supervising the placement of shelves and the installation of an in-store kitchen that will help showcase the store’s wares and allow for cooking classes.
“Marble Works is an exciting place to be and we are so glad they had room for us,” they said on a joint press release introducing their business, which they plan to formally open in early May. A “soft opening” is in the works for the middle of this month.
In the meantime, Barnes and Alexander will finish stocking a store that they believe will mesh with their respective backgrounds and talents.
Alexander is a former school teacher to children in grades 4 through 8. He taught for 29 years in the Dallas area and Virginia before retiring in January. Alexander is also an avid cook, a passion that has allowed him to build a wealth of knowledge about kitchenware.
“I spent many years working part-time at many of the best kitchenware stores, just to support my habit,” Alexander said. “Kitchenware is an exciting business on so many levels. While there are many new products to review at trade shows, finding the ones that help cooks prepare the best offerings for the table can be challenging, but fun.”
Barnes spent a lengthy career as a home technology consultant, advising folks on what kinds of sound, entertainment and/or computer systems to install in their residences. He began his career on the sales floor of Neiman Marcus, where he learned a thing or two about retail.
“We’re combining our interests and talents here,” Barnes said.
Their focus will be to offer in Middlebury various items that folks would otherwise have to travel an hour or more to purchase in Rutland or Chittenden counties. The store menu will include small appliances, cookware, bake ware, tools and gadgets. Video displays will be available for instruction, demonstration and entertainment.
The new store’s wares will run the gamut from bargain to premium, including such brands as All-Clad, KitchenAid, Le Creuset, Wüsthof, Lodge and Cuisinart. On the electronics front, the store will offer televisions, speaker systems, Blu-ray disc systems and other items from such brands as Sony, Bose and Boston Acoustics.
Barnes and Alexander said they will only carry products earning the best industry reviews. And they said their pricing will be competitive with larger stores. They added they will be able to order items that customers might not find in the store during a particular visit.
The two partners consulted with some local businesspeople and consumers prior to establishing Otter Creek Kitchenware and Electronics. Among those giving them advice: Steve Paddock, director of the Vermont Tech Enterprise Center, and Doug and Deb Anderson, who owned and operated the former housewares store “Dada” on Middlebury’s Main Street.
“We have developed a new mix of offerings that cannot be found in most small retail stores,” Barnes said.
They are optimistic their store will be successful and fill a void in the local market.
“We are grateful to the Marble Works for doing everything possible to create this great space for us,” Barnes said. “We feel there are many great things on the horizon for the Marble Works.”
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