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The Bright Future on the Big Screen: Prospector Theater Shop on Main Street

Written by Ellie Coleman

Main Street strollers have been curiously gazing into 454 Main Street, the former home of Butterflies & Zebras, in wonder of the new business that recently moved in. Turns out, the space has been leased to The Prospector Theatre, which is being erected behind The Ridgefield Library.

Hamlethub spoke with Val Jensen, visionary and owner of The Prospector, and Emily Pambianchi, SPHERE Executive Director, yesterday about Jensen’s latest adventure in Ridgefield and what it means for residents.

The “pop-up shop” (pop as in popcorn, not as in temporary) is open for special (and fun) events and community activities including movies (with lots of popcorn). And the interior looks like a cinema, with a big TV screen and rows of chair, dark curtins, and some ‘old-world’ movie theater decor. Add the scent of corn popping, and, well, you’ll be overcome with relaxation. But, it’s not all fun and games in the Main Street shop.

Jensen and Pambianchi, Pambianchi and Jensen, who bonded over their shared experiences with disabled family members, are joyfully busy this summer planning for the bright future and the big picture- The Prospector. The inviting space will include 3 theaters which will feature first-run movies. Most importantly, The Prospector is committed to providing job training and meaningful employment to adults with disabilities. Val Jensen, who readers know as the president ofSPHERE (Special People Housing Education Recreation Employment), calls the project her “baby”.

The Prospector will employ many of SPHERE’s hardworking members.”We’ll be having a job fair [at the Main Street shop] on July 8,” explained Jensen. “They [SPHERE members] can find out the types of jobs we will have available when the theater opens,” explains Jensen.

And, the SPHERE family is giddy with anticipation of opening of the theater. “They’ll come right up and walk in like how’s our store!?” remarked Pambianchi.

Jensen considers herself lucky to have such a large number of prospective employees. “It’s a win-win. They are so eager to work, and they’ll do their job so happily,” says Jensen.

The Prospector is being built on the original site of The Ridgefield Playhouse, and the facade is an exact replica of the historic theater.

Jensen and Pambianchi encourage Main Street strollers to stop in and see The Prospector plans, architecturally designed by Doyle-Coffin Architecture.

“Open a store on Main Street and pople will come talk to you,” says Pambianchi. “The location is perfect for receiving feedback,” added Pambianchi. In fact, Pambianchi recalled an experience she had with someone who popped into the store. “A Ridgefield woman came in just this morning…she was so sweet…she told us about how much she loved the old theatre, how she saw her first movie ever there.”

“We love that,” Emily said.

Look for a follow up story with more details on what you can expect when Ridgefield’s new movie theater opens (hint: lots and lots of popcorn!)

Kerry Anne Ducey