Lemon Tree fills gift store niche

by Heather Szilagyi | 11/6/12 11:00pm

Since its opening over a week ago, home decor and gift shop Lemon Tree has attracted a number of Dartmouth students and Upper Valley customers. With products ranging from handbags and scarves to novelty cuff links, Lemon Tree occupies the space that formerly housed JuliAna clothing boutique and aims to fill a need for a reliable gift store in Hanover, owner and manager Melissa Haas said.

Haas who has lived in Hanover for approximately six years said she hopes her business will "fill a niche" in the community, noting that Main Street Kitchens is the only establishment that might feature overlapping products.

Main Street Kitchens owner Mary Schouten said that while her business also sells gifts and targets the same population as Lemon Tree, it has a different purpose than Lemon Tree.

"We're going to be very careful about stepping on each other's toes," she said.

Haas said she has always wanted to open a business like Lemon Tree and considered various neighboring towns as potential locations, though Hanover was her first choice. When the building at 44 South Main St. became available, Hass took advantage of the opportunity.

"When this space opened, I thought, Wow, this could be the one,'" she said.

Location was a critical consideration in the store's opening, Haas said. Lemon Tree occupies a central area between Starbucks and Market Table, and foot traffic from the new Black Family Visual Arts Center has already benefited business, she said.

While a window shop directly on Main Street would be ideal, Lemon Tree's space has proven to be an effective retail location for a long time, Haas said.

Despite a lack of official advertising, Haas said she has received positive responses from students, faculty and local residents.

In an attempt to be community-friendly, Lemon Tree's hours accommodate individuals leaving work, as the store remains open until at least 7 p.m. Novelty goods include unique ties, golf-themed gifts, jewelry, lamps and dolls.

"I welcome people to come and just browse, look around," she said.

Schouten said that as an independent business, Lemon Tree is an asset to Hanover, but it is unlikely to affect her business.

Customer Mariam Richards said that it is hard to predict how Lemon Tree will fare in Hanover but said she thinks the store carries quality products and has high hopes for its success.

"There was a home decor store here that carried similar things and was around for a long time," she said. "I think it will do very well here."

Shaital Vellanki '16 said that the shop could attract students looking to buy gifts for friends, particularly in the case of a sale or promotion.

While Adam Sanford '13 said he does not shop much in town, the success of the store will rely on whether or not its business model targets Dartmouth students.

"It's going to depend on if it's affordable to most students," he said.

Aditya Shah '15 also said he thinks that the price range will be the determining factor in the business's success, especially in its appeal to younger customers.

"I would only buy if prices were lower than online prices," he said.

Representatives from interior design and fine home furnishings store Gilberte Interiors, Inc. said they were aware of Lemon Tree's opening but did not know what it sells. Representatives from furniture store Pompanoosuc Mills declined requests for comment.

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