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Friday, November 10, 2017

Local Bookstores Take Aim at Amazon

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 9:41 AM

Stacey Mitchell (left) and Olivia LaVecchia - INSTITUTE FOR LOCAL SELF-RELIANCE
  • Institute for Local Self-Reliance
  • Stacey Mitchell (left) and Olivia LaVecchia
It should come as no surprise that independent bookstores are more than a little miffed at online monolith Amazon. But mom-and-pop book shops aren't the only businesses affected by the retail giant's ever-expanding reach and dominance. The massive corporation captures one of every two American dollars spent online. That's according to a 2016 report published by Stacy Mitchell and Olivia LaVecchia of the nonprofit advocacy group Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

But two Vermont bookstores are fighting back — or at least, talking about fighting back. Phoenix Books, Northshire Bookstore and local news website VTDigger present a pair of public discussions this week with Mitchell as the featured speaker. The idea: Present listeners with enough info to arm them for the coming retail war — or, more likely (and less dramatically), the long, slow, uphill trudge.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Old Spokes Home Wins Award for Exceptional Hiring Practices

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Chuda Karki (second from left) with colleagues from Old Spokes Home - COURTESY OF OLD SPOKES HOME
  • Courtesy of Old Spokes Home
  • Chuda Karki (second from left) with colleagues from Old Spokes Home
Every Thursday, Jeremy Kehoe rushes home from his job at Old Spokes Home in Burlington to attend an American Sign Language class organized by Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront. He's been taking ASL lessons since this summer, when the bike shop and nonprofit community center hired Chuda Karki, a deaf Bhutanese man who doesn't speak English, as a technician.

"Chuda had become pretty ingrained in the shop, so I thought it would be much better to be able to communicate with him," said Kehoe. "Once I taught myself the alphabet, it became more and more interesting."

On Tuesday, both Kehoe and Karki were on hand when Donna Curtin, chairperson of the Vermont Governor’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities, presented Laura Jacoby, executive director of Old Spokes Home, with a Spirit of the ADA award.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Flynn Center Executive Director John Killacky to Step Down

Posted By on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 7:45 PM

  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • John Killacky
In a release this evening, Burlington's Flynn Center for the Performing Arts announced that its executive director, John Killacky, would be stepping down from his role in June 2018. Killacky arrived at the Flynn in 2010.

During his tenure, the release says, the Flynn flourished, "growing to a $7.7 million operating budget while maintaining the organization's commitment to presenting exceptional artistic, educational and community engagement programs."

In addition to securing significant grants for the performing arts facility, Killacky is perhaps proudest of the nonprofit's commitment to access and inclusiveness. The Flynn works with 75 human and social service agencies to provide discounted tickets for their clients; of the 38,000 students who annually attend shows, 7,300 attend for free; and the organization provides $30,000 in scholarships yearly for kids to participate in camps and classes.

Reached by phone for comment, Killacky said, first of all, that "all things are good" and he's "not going anywhere." While he wouldn't call this transition a retirement, Killacky noted that when he was interviewed for the ED position in 2010, he told the board that, if hired, he would stay "for five to seven years, and then my service would be done."

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Generator Director Lars Hasselblad Torres Departs

Posted By on Sun, Jul 23, 2017 at 9:32 AM

Lars Hasselblad Torres - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Lars Hasselblad Torres
Burlington's Generator has announced that executive director Lars Hasselblad Torres "has moved on to pursue other opportunities."

Torres has led the emerging maker space for two and a half years, during which time the facility moved from Memorial Auditorium to the South End. While the board looks for a new director, founding board member Michael Metz will serve as interim director.

"Throughout his tenure," a press release by board member Dan Harvey reads, "Lars oversaw some important growth in membership, programs and partnerships, and managed the move to our new home at 40 Sears Lane in Burlington. We thank him for his contributions and wish him well."

Torres was unable to comment for this post when reached on Friday afternoon. On his Facebook page, he wrote, "Friends, I have summarily become a freelancer," and asked if anyone had leads on potential jobs.

This post will be updated as information becomes available.

Clarification, July 23, 2017: This article previously indicated portions of the Generator website were taken down; that was due to a technical problem and unrelated to Hasselblad Torres' departure.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Half Lounge to Reopen in August

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 11:18 AM

L-R: Boudee Luangrath, Aaron Chiaravelotti, Adrian Sackheim - COURTESY OF HALF LOUNGE
  • Courtesy of Half Lounge
  • L-R: Boudee Luangrath, Aaron Chiaravelotti, Adrian Sackheim
When Half Lounge closed its doors in March, it left a fairly large hole in Burlington's nightlife scene. But the pint-sized, live music hotspot will reopen soon under new ownership.

The proprietors of Mr. Mikes Pizza, Aaron Chiaravelotti and Boudee Luangrath, along with SideBar talent buyer Adrian Sackheim, purchased the business in May and hope to reopen it in early August. Chiaravelotti and Luangrath also own SideBar, which they opened in 2016.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Stowe's West Branch Gallery Announces New Owners

Posted By on Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 1:26 PM

Tari Swenson and Chris Curtis - COURTESY OF WEST BRANCH GALLERY
  • Courtesy of West Branch Gallery
  • Tari Swenson and Chris Curtis
On Tuesday, June 20, the West Branch Gallery will transition to new ownership. The Stowe institution, owned by married artists Tari Swenson and Chris Curtis, represents a number of Vermont artists including sculptor Gordon Auchincloss and artist Duncan Johnson.

While rumors of the sale have been circulating for some time, Curtis and Swenson were able to confirm the transaction  now. The buyers are investors affiliated with Stowe Cider: Christine and Bill Windler, parents of cidery cofounder and chief cider maker Stefan Windler; Betsy Haines and her partner Marc Chretien, the latter a former adviser to the commander general of the U.S. Army.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It's Official: Nectar's Is for Sale

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2017 at 12:09 PM

  • Matt Thorsen
  • Nectar's
Pssst. Wanna buy a nightclub?  A pretty famous one in Burlington has just hit the market: Nectar's.

Last week, Seven Days reported that the building at 188 Main St., which houses both Nectar's and Club Metronome, was for sale. Unclear at the time was whether the nightclubs were also on the table. In a recent phone call, representatives from Nectar's Entertainment Group, which owns the building and both clubs, confirmed that the business is also for sale.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Building That Houses Nectar's Is for Sale

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 1:41 PM

  • File photo: Matthew Thorsen
  • Nectar's
The building that houses iconic Burlington nightclub Nectar's is up for sale. In a conference call Tuesday morning, representatives from Nectar's Entertainment Group confirmed that its three-story building at 188 Main Street, which also houses Club Metronome, is on the market. NEG, which also owns the Nectar's brand, has owned the building since 2012.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Majorwise and Packetized Energy Win 2017 LaunchVT

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 5:02 PM

LaunchVT winners: Majorwise and Packetized Energy - COURTESY OF LAUNCHVT FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Courtesy of LaunchVT Facebook page
  • LaunchVT winners: Majorwise and Packetized Energy
Last Friday, May 12, Majorwise, an online job platform for students, took first prize at LaunchVT, an annual business pitch competition for local startups; just three months earlier, Majorwise cofounders Max Robbins and Peter Silverman came out on top at the LaunchVT Collegiate competition. The quartet of Mads Almassalkhi, Jeff Frolik, Andrew Giroux and Paul Hines, of Packetized Energy, took second prize.

Silverman, a University of Vermont junior, remembered feeling "really nervous" before it was his team's turn to present their pitch. "[I] sweated through a t-shirt, which was really gross," he said. The competition was held at Main Street Landing Center.

Hines, who is a UVM electrical engineering professor, admitted that "it was a little nerve racking," especially since he was the last to present. "It worked out OK, " he chuckled.

"Everybody did very well," Hines noted, adding that there was a "ton of improvement" from the dry run the teams had earlier this month at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. Hines had spent the days leading up to the competition getting and merging feedback from his cofounders and mentor.

According to Silverman, winning the competition has given Majorwise credibility and financial relief. As first prize winners, the UVM juniors received $30,000 in cash and $45,000 in in-kind support. They will use the money to hire more developers, Silverman said. Currently, they can only afford to pay for 10 hours' worth of work each week, he explained.

As a result of the boost in manpower, Silverman predicts he and Robbins will be able to release an improved version of their platform a month earlier than planned. They will also make use of the cash prize to attend conferences for human resource professionals, so that they can market their product. Attendance at these events costs between $500 and $2,000, which had previously been "out of reach" for them, Silverman explained.

Similarly, the team from Packetized Energy will use their cash prize of $15,000 to hire a software developer. They hope to do this before their first investor comes in, said Hines. Packetized Energy is developing a platform to coordinate "distributed energy resources" found in household items and small businesses. The aim is to keep costs low and balance supply and demand in the grid.

So, what's their advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

"Network and pitch [and] get comfortable with people," said Silverman. "It all comes down to the execution, stick to it." He and his partner have been working on the same idea for 20 months, he said.

"Just ask people for advice early on," said Hines. "We learned a lot about what a good pitch looks like."

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Magic Hat Receives National Arts Award

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 5:47 PM

Magic Hat Artifactory - LISA KELLY
  • Lisa Kelly
  • Magic Hat Artifactory
For the second year in a row, Americans for the Arts has recognized a Burlington-area business as one of its "BCA 10."  Each year, the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit's  Business Committee for the Arts highlights 10 businesses across the country for "exceptional involvement in the arts," according to its website. received the honor last year. This year it's Magic Hat Brewing Company. Burlington's South End Arts and Business Association nominated both businesses for the award.

Founded by entrepreneur Alan Newman and brewer Bob Johnson, Magic Hat began concocting its suds on Flynn Ave. in Burlington's South End in 1994. The company has since moved its production to Bartlett Bay Road in South Burlington, though its offices are presently located on Pine Street in Burlington. North American Breweries bought the company in 2010. In 2012, NAB sold to Cerveceria Costa Rica, a division of Costa Rica's Florida Ice & Farm Co.

Throughout its history, Magic Hat has made the arts part of its identity and mission. (Fun fact: The brewery's original name was the Magic Hat Brewing Company & Performing Arts Center.) Recent artistic endeavors have run the gamut from soliciting original artwork for the Labels for Libations project to hosting the annual Wall to Canvas event, a live art competition at the brewery that benefits the Shelburne Craft School.
Art Hop Ale label with illustration by Zelde Grimm. - MAGIC HAT
  • Magic Hat
  • Art Hop Ale label with illustration by Zelde Grimm.
This is only the second year SEABA has nominated a business for the award. According to SEABA director Adam Brooks, that's because he hadn't even heard about the BCA 10 until Americans for the Arts approached him two years ago.

"They came to me after hearing about our little South End Arts District and the South End Art Hop, and thought maybe we should nominate a business," Brooks writes in an email. " has been outstanding in supporting the arts community, so they were a logical choice."

Deciding who to pick this year wasn't easy, Brooks says. "There are many south end businesses who make it part of their mission to support the arts.  That's what makes this district tick."

But Brooks notes a few projects that put Magic Hat on the organization's radar. He cites Labels for Libations, which began in 2012 during Brooks' first year as director. The competition solicits artwork from local creators to adorn a limited edition 22-ounce "Art Hop Ale." Recent winners have included Zelde Grimm and Hillary Glass.

Brooks also mentions the company's support of nonprofits such as the Shelburne Craft School and Big Heavy World. Magic Hat hosts the HeavyFest music festival, a BHW benefit, next Saturday, May 20, at the brewery.

"They are an extremely creative and artistic-minded business," Brooks says.

In an email statement to Seven Days, Magic Hat brand manager Lisa Kelly writes, "Since we opened our brewery doors in 1994, [Magic Hat has] embraced our incredible and vibrant arts community and wished to play a big part in that and help nurture and grow it." Kelly notes that the brewery also hosts art exhibitions in its retail store and tasting room, the Artifactory.

"We are proud to work with and support SEABA and participate in the South End Art Hop year after year," Kelly continues. "We invite the local Burlington arts community to share this award with us. Because without their inspiration and welcome, we would not have found ourselves in this amazing position."

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