By Brooke Geery
If you grew up in Rutland in the 90s, you likely have a memory of the Sound Barrier and its brightly colored banner on Center Street. Whether you were after music, clothing or skate and snowboard supplies, the store provided anything and everything an alt-teen could desire.
Owner Jeff Sanborn helped rural kids keep up with the trends and always had a line on that obscure CD or T-shirt. But in 2003, burnt out on the retail scene, he closed his doors to the public and moved his business online.
“It’s funny ‘cuz when I closed people were like, ‘must be nice to be retiring early,’” he laughed. “Ummm, not quite.”
Sanborn continued “grinding it down,” slinging goods on Ebay, Craigslist and more recently Facebook Marketplace. He keeps an office behind the original store location downtown.
“I still come in my office everyday attemptin’ to make somethin’ happen!”
Typically, he comes out of hiding each summer to set up a booth for the annual sidewalk sales in Rutland, but since those were cancelled, he decided to set up a pop-up shop on Wales St. for the holidays instead.
“Our annual 35 year tradition of sidewalk sales obviously couldn’t happen this summer. I was bummed on many levels, for sure. I’ve gotten used to seein’ so many old friends and customers that look forward to hookin’ up on some gear and catchin’ up. It’s crazy to see old friends that I watched grow up in the shop roll down with kids of their own now,” Sanborn said. “So, I decided to do a pop-upper to blow out all sortsa gear.”
Sanborn fondly remembers December as the best time to run a shop, anyway. “The holidays were the best times in the shop, ‘cuz the vibe was different in December! It’s only five weeks, so hopefully I won’t have flashbacks of why I bailed out on retail back in the day!”
The shop will basically be a sidewalk sale-style blow out, but indoors, of course.
“Everything must go!” Sanborn said. “No reasonable, semi-intelligent offers will be refused. The more ya buy, the cheaper stuff gets. We will have shopping carts that we’ve rounded up from all four corners of the city for people to load their gear out and to their awaiting vehicles.”
Things will get rolling on Black Friday with evening hours beginning at 3 p.m. and going until people stop coming. He’ll close up for good around New Years. Masks and social distancing will be required.
After years of internet sales, Sanborn is looking forward to some real human interaction. “As burnt out as I was on retail when I closed up shop 17 years ago, I can honestly say that I’m excited to hopefully relive some of the good times and memories over the holidays. Then I’ll vaporize right back to the comfy confines of my panic room. Roll your pennies and nickels. Bring back your empties, check the seat cushions then be there!”