For bookstore explorers seeking the expanded offerings of a chain shop with the attentive customer care and community spirit of an indie, look no further than Phoenix Books, Vermont’s regional independent shop with locations in Burlington, Essex, and Rutland.
Phoenix was opened in 2012 by husband-wife duo Michael DeSanto and Renee Reiner with a clear mission.
“If the community is an organism, then the bookstore or library can be viewed as a vital organ of that system,” Michael told the Burlington Free Press in 2018. “Our mission is to preserve local bookstores and support the communities that host them. It’s that simple.”
A bustling community shop, Phoenix offers a vast array of new books in all the usual genres, along with a wide variety of book-related gift items, games, apparel, cards, mugs, toys, chocolates, and more. I visited the Burlington location, a multi-level gem with several creative displays, well-chosen staff picks, and a beautiful kid-friendly mural covering a large portion of the wall in the children’s section. Unveiled in 2017, the mural, painted by artist Kristin Richland, depicts such literary children’s characters as Madeline and Frog and Toad marching along well-known Burlington locales. Meanwhile, don’t miss the staircase to the lower level, which offers discounted bargain books.
In addition to the impressive inventory and variety of offerings, Phoenix locations host a robust calendar of events and a variety of programs and services. In addition to the usual bookstore offerings like author readings, book signings, and book clubs, Phoenix works with local authors on consignment sales, allows customers to develop their own wish lists on their active website, and even operates its own print-on-demand publishing branch for local authors called Onion River Press.
With its warm and inviting spirit, ample selection, and multiple avenues for supporting local talent, Phoenix Books is honoring its mission and then some.
Phoenix Books is open daily with locations at 2 Carmichael St., Essex Junction; 191 Bank St., Burlington; and 2 Center St., Rutland, Vermont.