The Essex Outlets is becoming The Essex Experience.
Owner Peter Edelmann purchased the property from the IBM Credit Union in 1995, just as outlets were starting to boom across the country. He converted the property from the Lang Farm Center to the Essex Outlets.
With the ongoing, dramatic changes to the retail industry, the property is changing again.
Both Vermonters and the state’s many visitors are looking for the type of authentic experience the new Essex Experience (EE) aims to provide with its combination of music, arts, crafts, dining, health and wellness practitioners, as well as local and national retailers.
The changes began with the conversion of the Ralph Lauren store into the 7,500 square foot Purple Sage Salon and Wellness Center. Purple Sage features Chittenden County’s only salt cave, has energy class work, an infrared sauna and massage therapists, all alongside first class hair stylists and skin care technicians.
Owner Kim Scofield said being part of EE has been a benefit to her business, which relocated to EE two years ago. When customers have errands to do, including having their hair done, they like being able to come to single location, she explained. They also like being able to stop in for a massage or other service at the salon and have lunch at one of EE’s restaurants.
“Our space is beautiful,” said Scofield, adding, “Working with Peter has been great.
Scofield’s clientele can also follow up their salon visit with a trip to the movies.
Edelmann built the Essex Cinemas in 2001 and added the TRex theater and the Bar and Dining Theater in 2008, well ahead of the national luxury dining theater concept.
In 2018, a state of the art sound, lighting and stage were added to the TRex, creating the Double E Performance Center.
Edelmann has teamed up with Higher Ground founder Kevin Statesir and Essex music promoter Eric Koval to bring local and national touring musicians to the Double E. Upcoming performers include the Nobby Reed Project, George Murtie, and the Shane Murley Band.
On Dec. 7, Yes, Darling, featuring Ryan Montbleau and Hayley Jane, will debut their new show with backing from their full band.
Mexican restaurant Mad Taco initially opened as part of the Double E, but after a successful year expanded to a new location with the EE.
However, there are still dining options at the Double E. “We hired a great young chef to create and deliver delicious and fresh easy dining meals,” said Edelmann.
Earlier this year John and Jennifer Churchman, authors of the bestselling children’s book series “Sweet Pea and Friends,” opened the ArtHound Gallery in EE.
In addition to showcasing the work of Vermont artists, the ArtHound offers framing, printmaking and copying services, plus art tours and classes for both local residents and tourists coming through the Essex Resort and Spa.
“Our approach is to go for both the high end and the medium range, right down to inexpensive art,” John Churchman previously told the Reporter. “I’d like to have the best collection of coffee mugs, and local products like honey, maple – things people buy throughout the season.”
Still more new businesses will be arriving at the EE in the upcoming year, including Black Flannel Brewery with a fantastic team led by two time home brewer of the year Chris Kessler and Black Flannel Distillery led by David Mosher one of the most renowned distillers in Vermont.
Uncommon Coffee and Bakery plans to open in January 2020. It will be led by Maya Crowley who previously managed Burlington’s Uncommon Grounds.
Community and learning are both central to Edelmann’s vision for the EE. The goal is to offer places for the community to gather and things to do, including classes and new experiences such as a visit to a salt cave or art gallery.
Ultimately, Edelmann said, he seeks to “deliver a truly exciting and authentic Essex, Vermont Experience.”