New tenants selected for Skihaus location

MIDDLEBURY — Two local businesses — Otter Creek Kitchenware & Electronics and Edgewater Gallery — last week confirmed plans to occupy the soon-to-be-vacated Skihaus storefront in downtown Middlebury’s Battell Block.
Skihaus recently concluded a liquidation sale as a precursor to closing its doors after a more than a 60-year presence in a prominent spot in the heart of downtown. Skihaus has occupied roughly 5,700 square feet of retail space at street level and another 3,900 square feet below street level in the Battell Block spot at 6 Merchants Row.
Bruce Hiland, principal owner of the Battell Block, was pleased to announce that the Skihaus space will be rented to the two new tenants, which are both planning “soft openings” on July 15.
Sammy Barnes and Greg Alexander opened Otter Creek Kitchenware & Design at 211 Maple St. in Middlebury’s Marble Works complex last spring. They offer a wide variety of products within their 1,300 square feet of space, including bakeware, cookware, cutlery and cutting boards, kitchen appliances as well as televisions and music systems.
Shoppers have been able to find products running 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 carries such brands as Sony, Bose and Boston Acoustics.
While Barnes and Alexander have built a loyal clientele at the Marble Works location, they have been casting about for a larger, more high-profile spot. They have found both at 16 Merchants Row in the Battell Block, a location with 1,700 square feet in which to operate.
“We are excited to move into the new space, which is 30-percent larger (than the store’s current spot),” Barnes said. “We are excited to be in the heart of downtown Middlebury.”
The additional room will allow the store to expand its kitchenware and related gift items, according to Barnes. A company press release about the move assures customers that they will find, among other things:
•  A warm, welcoming atmosphere “where experienced chefs and novices alike will find the new offerings direct from the market.”
•  Cookware, bakeware, tableware, tools, small appliances and gadgets “presented in highly organized, uncluttered ways,” allowing customers to focus on immediate needs as well as plan their own ideal kitchen.
•  Video displays for instruction, demonstration and entertainment.
•  Occasional cooking demonstrations, featured by invitation, throughout the year.
•  Gift registries and store participation in local organizations and fundraising events.
Barnes and Alexander expressed thanks to Marble Works management for giving the business its start.
“Our customers have been well-served here during the past year,” Barnes said.
But when friends and shoppers told the duo about Skihaus’s impending departure, they jumped at the opportunity.
“We were able to act very quickly,” Barnes explained.
Plans call for Otter Creek Kitchenware to have the following hours at its new location: Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Barnes said those hours could be adjusted depending on shoppers’ needs.
“We look forwarded to having extended hours, on occasion,” Barnes said.
Meanwhile, Edgewater Gallery — established in 2009 at 1 Mill St. — is preparing to open a second location in its portion of the former Skihaus space. It will be called “Edgewater Gallery on the Green,” with an address of 6 Merchants Row.
Joe Siesholtz, director of Edgewater Gallery and Edgewater on the Green, said the new space will give greater exposure to individual artists’ work. He explained the configuration of 6 Merchants Row will allow the gallery to show larger, and multiple, examples of a featured artist’s work. Addison County-based artist Rory Jackson will be the featured artist for the gallery’s grand opening celebration to take place on Friday, July 24, at 5 p.m. The show will include a series of Jackson’s large-scale oil paintings.
On Saturday, July 25,Edgewater will offer guided tours through the collection at the new space as well as beverages and snacks.
“The new gallery will develop its own aesthetic,” Siesholtz said. “It will be distinct from 1 Mill St.”
Edgewater Gallery will continue to exhibit and sell a wide range of artwork in many forms, including paintings and mixed media, photography, jewelry, fibers, furniture and 3-D pieces made from ceramic, glass, wood and metal for sale at a variety of different price points.
Siesholtz is confident there is ample demand in Middlebury to warrant a second Edgewater gallery. And Siesholtz added that Edgewater will take some of artwork on the road to venues throughout the country. The gallery also maintains a list of clients and their respective tastes in artwork.
There are no immediate changes contemplated for the 1 Mill St. location.
“The Mill Street building is currently getting a structural strengthening and will be adding a deck on an existing flat roof,  but those changes are minor and do not anticipate a change in use from current activity,” George Dorsey, managing director of Edgewood Holdings, LLC, indicated through an email. “These modifications should be completed by September 1.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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