Raw Honey will close its doors next month, though the owner says it’s not because the downtown clothing shop is doing badly.
“I opened a third business 8 months ago, which is a Pilates studio above Hop’N Moose,” said Rebecca Buonadonna, who also owns Fruition, Raw Honey’s sister store, which will absorb any stock that doesn’t get sold. “I teach one or two, if not more, classes a day, so it takes up a lot of my time.”
So, Buonadonna said, she decided to merge the stores. She said it was hard to decide which of the two locations to maintain — Raw Honey is on Center Street, near the plaza, while Fruition is on the corner of Merchants Row and West Street.
“Raw Honey is physically bigger, but the windows and street location of Fruition is ideal,” she said. “I’ll never give it up. I think it’s the best location in Rutland.”
Buonadonna’s operation of multiple businesses was repeatedly pointed to as a sign of the health of downtown. With ground floor occupancy rates falling during the past couple years, Buonadonna insisted that shuttering one of her locations was about balancing business with her family life and community activity and not the viability of either store.
“Everything’s going well,” she said. “It’s just about my time and being able to focus enough energy to feel like I’m giving my business the best attention I can.”
Buonadonna said she was excited about retooling Fruition.
“Fruition will stay Fruition, but we’re definitely going to bring in the Honey vibe, maybe modernize Fruition a little bit,” she said. “Change is good. I’m excited to see how things go from here.”
Brennan Duffy, executive director of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, said that while downtown has backslided from a few years ago when it was just shy of 100 percent occupancy on ground floors, he was confident about the future.
“I think it will bounce back as people reopen stores,” he said. “The downtown restaurants are doing well. ... I don’t think there’s any silver bullet or one reason why things are vacant.”
Duffy said that in the next month or so he expects to have an updated list of vacancies to use as a marketing tool.