Is Rutland becoming a shopping destination? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Is Rutland becoming a shopping destination?

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Designer jeans with a price tag more than $200 and upscale clientele carrying high-end handbags, shopping for an upcoming trip to Las Vegas. This boutique isn't in New York City or even Burlington; it is in the heart of downtown Rutland.

"It's my home, it's where I live, and Rutland is a great community with a lot of potential," said Rebecca Buonadonna from Raw Honey.

Buonadonna opened Raw Honey last year. When she opened her first boutique, Fruition, just around the corner, she said Rutland was not what it is now. "When I first opened, it was a lot emptier downtown then it is now, and just about three years almost it's really turned around and all those spaces in the buildings are filled," Buonadonna said.

The numbers speak for themselves. "We're holding strong at a 90-percent occupancy on the first floor retail level and we have seen an emergence over the last six months in more retail coming to the downtown," said Michael Coppinger from the Downtown Rutland Partnership. 

On Merchants Row, Tattersalls has been catering to the upscale outdoor enthusiast for 18 years. "We see good things happening in Rutland. There have been some ebbs and flows, but we are on a positive wavelength," said the store's Jennifer Pattillo.

Some customers, like Barbara Readsay, say they'll travel the distance to get items that they can't get anywhere else. "It isn't the same old same old, you're not gonna find it any place else, and I even go up to Middlebury and there's nothing that compares to it," she said.

"From Ira to Shrewsbury to Brandon, I have some customers that drive up from Rhode Island just for the fun of it, just to come to Rutland," Pattillo said.

And some come from even farther. "I have people who come in from New York. I have people who come in from different parts of Vermont. I have clients who actually come up from New York City to shop here because it's easier and more convenient for them to kind of come to one place," Buonadonna said.

Downtown Partnership officials say that they have been fielding inquiries for more retail stores to come to the Marble City, offering even more for those who come to Rutland to shop. They add that a bicycle shop has plans to open on Strongs Avenue.

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