WILTON, Conn. – Michaels, a national arts and crafts superstore, is planting roots in Wilton. The chain recently signed a lease for the space in Gateway Center formerly occupied by Borders bookstore, representatives from the Wilton Chamber of Commerce confirmed.
“We’re extremely excited about it,” Chamber President Peg Koellmer said Thursday. “We think [Michaels] will be an excellent use of that space. There isn’t a place like it in Wilton now.”
Located on Route 7 near the Norwalk border, the 20,000-square-foot space has been empty since early 2011 when Borders went out of business. The store closed its doors after the Borders Group filed for bankruptcy.
Borders was one of the shopping center's anchors. As such, the vacancy has drawn a lot of attention, Chamber Executive Director Janeen Leppert said. Together with a smaller vacancy, Leppert and Koellmer said the Gateway Center as a whole looks empty, which hurts the area.
“It’s a gateway into Wilton,” Koellmer said. “Having vacant stores there is not warm and inviting.”
However, things are looking up for south Wilton, Leppert and Koellmer said. The Little Pub, a popular Ridgefield eatery, is also opening soon on Route 7, not far from the Gateway Center.
Koellmer said Michaels is planning for a mid-June grand opening, and the Little Pub is expected to open next month.
“It appears south Wilton is really turning around,” she said.
Michaels, a Texas-based retailer, carries a variety of arts and craft supplies, including paints, brushes, canvases, scrapbooking materials, beads, wedding supplies, yarns, floral items and more. The store also sells home décor, frames, seasonal merchandise and offers custom framing services.
It has more than 1,000 locations nationwide and in Canada, according to the company website. The closest Michaels store is in Stamford.