Vyto Starinskas / Staff photo
Local officials and dignitaries cheer as Rutland City Mayor Christopher Louras cuts the ribbon at Small Dog Electronics on Thursday.At a glance, Small Dog Electronics looks more like a college computer lab than a store.
Neat, widely spaced rows of computers, laptops and tablets line black tables. In the back, glass walls separate a classroom-like space from the rest of the West Street building.
The store, which sells licensed Apple products at multiple locations, is one of the most anticipated arrivals to Rutland’s downtown in years.
It opens officially Saturday, but held a ribbon-cutting Thursday at which local officials got an early look inside. A big enough crowd gathered outside the store for the ceremony that photographers found themselves standing in the street, drawing horn blasts from passing traffic.
“This is the type of draw we look for in downtown businesses,” Downtown Rutland Partnership executive director Michael Coppinger said. “This will pull people from around the region who are Apple believers.”
Indeed, Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Thomas Donahue estimated the store would pull in customers from a 60-mile radius. Those customers, in turn, make it easier to attract new businesses, Coppinger said, and are a boon to existing businesses.
“Folks that buy Apple products have a little more disposable income, so we’re confident shoppers here will be shared up and down the street, around the corner on Merchants Row,” he said.
Coppinger also said Small Dog’s presence is an endorsement of the health of downtown.
“They don’t open stores on a whim,” he said. “They do their market research. They do business in communities where they’re going to be successful.”
CEO Don Mayer said the store, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, will start out employing five people, the equivalent of four full-time positions.
“We really look at this as an experiment,” Mayer said. “If we can make it work in Rutland, there are a lot of Vermont communities we can put a store in.”
For the opening Saturday, Mayer said there will be door prizes, gift bags and several one-day-only specials.
“It’ll be a great day to buy a computer,” he said.
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