Shop Upscale Manchester
A Handcrafted Shopping Experience
Lana Hauben is charming. High energy and whip smart. She’s a licensed therapist, a children’s book author, a patron of the arts, and president of the company she founded with her late husband Ben. This is a woman who gives all the credit for her successes to the important people in her life; husband, mother, and her three daughters. About herself, she is modest.
“You know, I never actually thought about becoming somebody in the world. When I was young I dreamt of becoming an actress. But, when you live with someone like Ben, who is so driven to achieve, it’s catching.” She smiles and explains Ben Hauben to us. It’s much ambition, vision, and heart. “When we first married, he was wrapping up a stint in the shoe business; closing a successful international company that he’d founded when he was just 22.” She leaned in, with a big smile. “He used to terrify me. If I said I’d love to open up a shop, he’d say, Great! Lana, why don’t you open twenty? He’d scare the living daylights of me back then. He was such a global thinker.”
NYC to VT
After a couple of married years in New York, the two found themselves looking for a place to which they could, once in a while, escape. “We started investigating communities an hour or two away. We looked and looked but nothing felt right. One weekend, we went up to Wethersfield, Vermont. Ben said: This is it! But it was too far from the city, a six-hour drive. On the way back we drove through Manchester and stopped at a real estate office. Ice Pond Farm, down in East Arlington, was for sale. “We bought the house, came up on weekends. I learned to garden. We were weekenders.” A familiar tale… But Ben was secretly looking for a permanent opportunity; something that would allow the couple to relocate to the country for good. “He just forgot to share that with me,” Lana laughed. “He started looking around at real estate. One day, he told me he wanted to show me something. He took me to the corner of Route 7 and 11&30 and asked me to look east, toward the ski mountains.”
“He said Lana, tell me… is this 57th Street and 5th Avenue, or am I dreaming?”
“I was madly in love with him, so I said, yes, you’re right! And his creativity took wing.” Manchester Designer Outlets would be the first outlet center in history to design upscale buildings that fit into a townscape. “When Ben built the Polo Building, the then president of retail told him, just build a barn, whatever. Make it simple.” But Ben argued that Polo’s Madison Avenue customers were going to shop up here in Vermont. “Why should they expect anything less from the experience, just because they’re saving money? As far as our business goes, that was revolutionary!” Lana explains that while the first stores were under construction, vacationing CEOs and Presidents of major retail corporations were watching, curious about what was taking shape in Manchester. “Our first building opened in 1984. It was Ralph Lauren’s 9th factory store and hundreds of people came to celebrate!”
Situated amidst the historic Manchester townscape with Vermont’s green mountains in the near distance, today’s MDO is a collection of more than 40 designer outlet boutiques. It’s a carefully curated, world class shopping experience catering to savvy shoppers and discerning travelers alike. “MDO is unique. It wasn’t artificially designed and developed to look like a village. It’s a real life town, with a vibrant culture and a sense of style, and history. And the shopping experience blends right in. It’s a perfect splurge. Amazing gift giving. Fun for a rainy day!”
“People have been coming to Manchester since the late 1800s because of what we have here; the glorious summer, the foliage, the skiing. One of the greatest things about this place is that we can relax and unplug, but still have wonderful activities and cultural events at our fingertips. And shopping is just another leisure activity. Not only in Manchester but in the world. Sometimes people really need something, right? But sometimes shopping is like going to the movies. And sometimes it’s the thrill of getting a major brand at a crazy price.” In MDO-land, luxury brands are accessible. I promise you that as the interviewing team, we’d probably never do anything but browse Armani on Fifth Avenue. But…we can absolutely splurge on a jacket at the outlet boutique and feel like a million bucks on date night.
Dressed smartly, as always, with her Michael Kors tote on the table, Lana is NYC at heart. “Although I spent many summers in the White Mountains, the first time I went to the country for a weekend as an adult, I was wearing high heels.” We love this about her, too. “So I wasn’t in the majority, coming to hike, bike and climb a mountain.”
“As a city girl, I think of the great places to eat. Do you know we have fabulous restaurants? And we have Hildene, and the bookstore; the bookstore, above all. It’s pretty remarkable when you stop to think of it, that we have a town that’s as pretty and safe as this, where you can have gourmet dining, incredible shopping, and skiing just 15 minutes away!”
Click through to browse the full Manchester Designer Outlets inventory of boutique outlets, galleries, and restaurants. Watch their sweet promo video, connect with them on social media, and find a map to plan your visit!Manchester Designer Outlets
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