On November 24, 2021

“Vibrating with good energy” — Wild Kind Toys to open shop in downtown Rutland

By Brooke Geery

Logan Seely and her fiancé, Andy Paluch, are two busy young professionals betting on downtown Rutland. The couple closed on the space at 31-33 Center St. in May and is now in the midst of revamping it. The 4,200 square foot space has sat vacant since Sabby’s Pasta House and Sports Lounge closed down more than nine years ago, and the property was put into foreclosure. It went through multiple owners, including Ron Amadeo in 2014, and then sold to J.R. Bullock in 2018. Bullock eventually abandoned the project, putting the space back on the market for $259,000. The couple were able to take over the deed for a sale price of $200,000.

By Brooke Geery
Logan Seely plans to open Wild Kind Toys in downtown Rutland in before the holiday season.

When it’s all done, hopefully sometime in February 2022, the space will again include a two-story, open-concept restaurant, two apartments and a toy shop at 31 Center St., which Seely will head.

Seely is a Woodstock native who’s spent most of her career working with children, which is what spawned her interest in toys that inspire learning and creative play — the shop’s focus.

Her fiance Paluch moved to Rutland in 2017 and is the founder of Come Alive Outside. He also serves on the board of commissioners for the Rutland Redevelopment Authority and works as a real estate agent for TPW.

The Wild Kind Toys storefront will open in early December, but Seely is already up and running online at wildkindtoys.com. In anticipation of its brick and mortar opening, the Mountain Times caught up with her to learn what local shoppers can look forward to this holiday season.

Q&A with Logan Seely

Mountain Times: I saw your background is in teaching. Is this your first time running a retail store? Have you worked retail in the past?

Logan Seely: I taught for eight years on the seacoast of New Hampshire — mostly at the Kindergarten level. I left teaching in 2018 and since then have been working over at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in child adversity intervention research. But since college I’ve always had the dream of opening a toy store, so it’s been on my mind for a long time. I have also been fortunate enough to have worked at First Stop Board Barn. I worked there once a week since moving back up until this summer and learned so much from the awesome team there about inventory management, retail life, and customer service. That experience combined with my experience in working with children and my dream to open a toy shop has created a great base to get Wild Kind off the ground.

MT: Are you from the area?

LS: Yup! I grew up in Woodstock. I graduated WUHS in 2006 and then went to University of New Hampshire, which is what brought me down to the seacoast area of New Hampshire for most of my 20s. I never really stopped considering Vermont my home when I was down in Portsmouth and ultimately moved back in 2018, moving to Killington in early 2020.

MT: What inspired you to make the leap and open your own store? What are you most looking forward to?

LS: I think part of it was the “if not now, when?” attitude. I mentioned that opening a toy store has been something I’ve bounced around in my head for over a decade now, but I think the pandemic caused me to slow down a little bit and take more time to think about my future and what I want. It was about a year ago that I started to realize that it seemed silly to wait to do something just because it was a little bit of a risk.

Then I started to do a little of my own market research, which was pretty easy since I have four nieces under the age of 5, so I had good excuses to check out toys and toy stores in our area. I found that there were few options in this area where someone could find toys that are well-made (including made from natural products and using sustainable practices) and inspire open-ended play and creativity. And finally, I think what really solidified my excitement to make this leap into the business-owner life was all the energy in Rutland.

Even though I was born and raised a Vermonter, I feel like I’m just getting to know Rutland since moving to Killington and meeting Andy (my fiancé who moved to Rutland about five years ago from North Carolina). Rutland’s downtown architecture is beautiful and has so much personality, but what really gave me the confidence to make this leap was the energy of the people in Rutland. From what I’ve seen, it’s a community that really gets behind economic development projects and welcomes newcomers and new ideas and it seems to me that there’s just a really good thing going on in Rutland.

That also is really what I’m most looking forward to. More than just selling toys and getting to be part of putting smiles on kids’ faces, I’m excited to become part of the Rutland community. I’m really looking forward to the brick and mortar to open up so I can start actually meeting some of the local folks who have been supporting the store on Instagram and Facebook and on our website. One of our core beliefs at Wild Kind Toys is “mission-driven shopping,” and that means that we not only try to buy from suppliers who are doing good in their own communities, but we’ll also be making sure a percentage of our profits are going to local agencies who are supporting kids and families. So along with really looking forward to becoming more part of the Rutland fabric and part of the energy in Rutland, I’m also really looking forward to making connections with those community agencies and organizations.

MT: Any major apprehensions?

LS: Major apprehensions… hmm. I think I have a lot of minor apprehensions. The most immediate concern right now is the supply chain, which we all are feeling the impacts of already. I am working hard to keep ordering and keep shipments coming in, but of course there’s only so much I can do. A lot of that is out of my hands. The bright side, though, is that a lot of the places where I’m buying from are smaller companies and doing a lot of their manufacturing locally to their company location. So while they are certainly impacted, they aren’t as impacted as companies who need to source parts and pieces from all over the globe.

MT: The shop looks great online! Are you having any luck with that sales channel? Do you think that will remain a large part of your business once the brick and mortar opens?

LS: Thanks! It’s been a labor of love for sure, both purchasing the products that are up on the site and trying to create a user-friendly experience. There have been, with any startup, a few hiccups, but for the most part it’s been pretty smooth sailing. We have been a perfect level of busy with packing and mailing since opening up last Friday. I am mostly just overwhelmed with gratitude for the orders and support that’s flowed in. I do want to give a shout out to Andy and our three dogs for being awesome sources of support (and in Andy’s case, helping out with the packing and shipping). It really does take a team! I’m still at my job over at Dartmouth, and will continue to be, so also balancing that!

The online shop will still be up and going when we open the brick and mortar and once the brick and mortar is open, we’ll also be able to offer in-store pick up for locals who may prefer to shop online.

MT: Seems like there’s lots happening in Rutland right now. Why do you think it’s a good time for downtown Rutland?

LS: Definitely a lot of great things going on in Rutland. I’m sure there’s a lot that I don’t even know about. But between several new shops in the downtown area that have opened up in the past year and a few more in the next few months, The Paramount work that’s going on, energy around revamping Center Street, and an uptick in people moving to the area, Rutland certainly seems to be vibrating with good energy. I think the pandemic has refocused a lot of people on wanting to shop and support local (although, I would add that I think Vermonters have always been pretty good at that), and I also think a lot of people now are able to live where they want to play because they can work mostly virtually. And maybe I’m biased, but where better than Vermont to live? To me, Rutland is headed in the direction to become that cool downtown area to eat, shop, and visit, and I think all of us, on some level or another, have a need for that kind of activity as well as all the wonderful and energizing outdoor activities we can do year round in Vermont.

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