Local News
April 19, 2017

Kindred Spirit to triple in size downtown

RUTLAND—Kindred Spirit, Rutland’s unique downtown furniture and home goods store, is moving around the corner and tripling in size, owners Stephen Willoughby and Allison Thompson announced Thursday, April 13.
The store, located at 53 Merchants Row, will move to 116 West Street (former home to Small Dog Electronics).
With the change in location comes a new name.  The new name, “Home Alternatives,” will better capture the essence of the store and what it is about, the owner explained.
“The response we’ve had from customers has had us looking to expand for a while. We looked at a couple other great locations but when we heard this space was opening up we didn’t want to miss out,“ Willoughby said. “We’ve been happy with the customer traffic and our location, but the new spot will allow us to display more products, give customers more choices, and take our business to the next level. We will have everything that people love about Kindred Spirit, but just with more of it.”
“Our current location was perfect for us initially, but we realized pretty quickly that we had created something that had potential to thrive. So when we started to look for a bigger space we knew that we wanted to stay downtown,” Thompson said. “We have done better than we imagined with sales, and have had a lot of positive feedback from customers and the community.  Home Alternatives is basically a reaction to their ideas and needs—we will have more to choose from, but intend to keep the same feel and personal experience that our customers love. We expect the new space will allow us to grow while staying in the heart of the city. Downtown Rutland has proven to be the perfect home for us.”
Kindred Spirit sells a wide selection of furniture, lighting, rugs and home accessories that helps customers express their individuality and creativity, and live more comfortable lives. The current showroom displays an eclectic mix of modern and contemporary styled home furnishings sourced locally and abroad.  Because of the ability to order tens of thousands of additional items, they are able to keep their showroom fresh and ever-changing.  “Customers are constantly saying they love that it’s different every time they walk in the store,” Willoughby said.
Willoughby added that the web is an important part of doing business, but having a store where people can touch, feel and try out products is essential.
Thompson said support and an offer of local incentives also stoked their desire to grow.  The Downtown Rutland Partnership, Green Mountain Power, the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, Castleton University, MKF Properties and Rutland Economic Development Corp. recently offered Kindred Spirit incentives to open a larger store.
Mark Foley Jr., who leased their existing and future space, said he found the store to be an exemplary retailer. “There are always ebbs and flows in the retail world and in any given downtown,” Foley said. “I think Kindred Spirit has developed a great niche, and combined with the personal service they provide, much like Phoenix Books, they’ve found a winning combination.”
Green Mountain Power vice president Steve Costello, who has assisted Willoughby and Thompson with their plan, said he was thrilled with the new store concept. “I’ve been a regular customer of Kindred Spirit since it opened,” Costello said. “It’s a great store, with fantastic customer service, and I am thrilled to see their hard work pay off.”
For more information kindredspiritstore.com.
Small Dog closes in Rutland
After opening their Rutland store on West Street in May 2013, Small Dog Electronics closed its doors last week.
Owner Don Mayer explained the decision, saying that expected sales never met their projections and with slim margins on what they do sell, they couldn’t justify extending their stay. Demographics, changes in consumer buying habits and a relatively long stretch without new products from Apple, could have also contributed, he said.
Small Dog will continue to operate at its other locations in South Burlington, Waitsfield and Key West, Florida.

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