"Spellbound" Store on Church Street Closing by End of August

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Church Street-goers may see another empty storefront in Burlington by the end of August.

The clothing store Spellbound is closing its doors in the next few weeks.

“My heart hurts. It's filled with joy but it is the most beautiful store. I have loved it,” said Mara Brazilian, the owner.

She opened the Church Street store three and a half years ago.

This winter, she says, business slowed. She let go of her employees and downsized her home.

"It was a tough go this year,” she said.

Between her rent and utilities, she says she spends $8,000 a month to open the door.

She lost her lease due to late payments and will be closing the store by the end of the month.

“I know about margins and how to make a buck. I did not want to up everything and make the store not shoppable,” Brazilian said.

Just across the way from her store is the vacant space where Second Time Around used to be.

Other recent closures include Lole, The Fitting Curve, American Apparel and North Face.

Marketplace Executive Director Ron Redmond says the North Face store is in receivership now. NBT Bank now owns the merchandise.

He says the bank will be holding an auction for the contents.

Local 22 & Local 44 News reached out to the store owner, Will Vinci, for comment but have not yet heard back.

Redmond says the vacancy rate sits at 3.1%, which is an improvement from the peak of the recession when it was at 11%.

“To be on Church Street, you can be successful but you have to have a really strong business plan, you've got to have a really clear idea of what your niche is, what your audience is,” he said.

“I think we all work very hard and I think some of us work harder and I don't think it's because of my business plan,” said Brazilian.

Each business owner on the Church Street Marketplace pays $2.87 per square foot for what's called common area fees. That money is used for things like maintenance and marketing and safety."

“It's really managing the public space on a day to day basis,” said Redmond.

Reports show, in fiscal year 2000, the Marketplace collected $389,063 in common area fees from business owners.

That number has grown to $685,178 as of fiscal year 2016.

Seventy percent of the Marketplace’s revenue comes from the common area fees.

Redmond says even though the Marketplace is a city department, it is unable to receive funding from the city of Burlington.

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