emotional payoff just as rewarding.
Still, DeSanto was cautious about
opening a third bookstore in Rutland.
He and Reiner could hardly be called locals — they live nearly two hours north
in Milton. He told Costello the venture
would require a partner who lived in the
community. Did he know anyone who
might be willing to buy in as a minority
owner? Soon after, Tricia Huebner met
DeSanto in Middlebury for lunch and
immediately signed on to invest, along
with her husband, Tom, as a part-own-er, and to run the store as its manager.
“The bookstore totally lines up with
everything I value in life,” says Huebner,
who ran a reading mentoring program
for nine years and has served on the
boards of the Rutland Free Library and
the Paramount Theatre. “I’m an avid
reader. I love talking about books, recommending books and buying books.
And I love Rutland. It’s a little-engine-that-could town.”
In the time since it opened, Phoenix Books has established it- self as a viable business in Rutland
— “sales are on track to exceed initial
goals,” DeSanto says — and while it sees
an increase in visitors during fall foliage
and ski season, it’s locals that sustain the
In Burlington and Essex, Phoenix
bookstores recorded double-digit sales
increases in 2015, a reflection of a recent
national trend that has seen independent bookstores bounce back after the
initial onslaught of digital. Last spring,
DeSanto and Reiner acquired a fourth
store: Misty Valley Books, in Chester.
The pleasures and nuances of browsing
in a neighborhood bookstore, it appears,
still have a place in the way people experience books, and the place where they live.
“There’s something about a bookstore
that goes right into the heart of communities,” DeSanto says. “Bookstores are a bit
of a sacred place.” A 603.359.1912 / geobarns.com