New store for children to open in Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Book Shop on Main Street will soon spin off a second enterprise that will specialize in books, toys, games and educational gifts for babies and children.
The new store, to be officially unveiled on Nov. 28, will be called “Ollie’s Other Place” and will be based in the former home of Yak Adventures and EveryWear at 13 Washington St. It is the brainchild of Becky Dayton and Jenny Lyons, owner and sales/marketing manager, respectively, of the Vermont Book Shop.
Dayton believes Ollie’s wares will complement the book store, while providing a good insurance policy should upcoming construction on the downtown Middlebury rail bridges prove a significant hardship for shoppers. Replacement of the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges is slated to begin next year and could result in as many as three years of construction in and around Middlebury’s downtown. The local selectboard is trying to get state transportation officials to agree to a less complex project that could be confined to one year of construction.
“We will be adding variety and cheer to Middlebury’s retail landscape, as well as ensuring some degree of continuity for Vermont Book Shop, should the worst-case scenario of the railroad project be realized,” Dayton said of her hopes for Ollie’s, which is named after her dog. Ollie, a friendly standard poodle, can sometimes be seen at the book shop, greeting people.
The Vermont Book Shop has been in continuous operation since 1949 and employs three full-time workers and another five to seven part-timers.
Ollie’s Other Place will carry quality toy brands, such as HABA, Folkmanis, tegu and Pal Socks, according to Lyons.
“We felt Middlebury could use a really great place to shop for unique baby gifts and birthday presents, and cool stuff for kids’ rooms,” she said.
The Vermont Book Shop will maintain — and expand “significantly” — its children and young adult book sections, according to Lyons, while Ollie’s will carve out its own literary niche.
“Ollie’s Other Place will mainly carry special edition children’s books and gift books, with coordinating merchandise,” Lyons said.
Both Dayton and Lyons are pleased with the spot they have found for Ollie’s.
“The Washington Street location appealed for a number of reasons — its close proximity to the (Middlebury Natural Foods) Co-op and Shaw’s (supermarket) being one, the availability of parking, plus it was a perfect size for what we had in mind: a fun little space,” Lyons said. “We hope Ollie’s will be a destination shop for birthday party and baby shower gift-seekers, plus attract foot traffic and after-school activity.”
The Ollie’s grand opening is slated for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28. Hours will be Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dayton and Lyons will oversee operations at Ollie’s, but they will hire some additional people as well.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].