New stores coming to downtown Hanover after string of closures

by Debora Cobon | 5/16/19 2:00am

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Three stores — J. McLaughlin, Still North Books & Bar and Woody’s — will be opening later this year on Main Street.

by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Following the recent closures of several businesses in downtown Hanover, new stores will be arriving to the downtown retail scene. The first floor of the space where the Dartmouth Bookstore was formerly located will be shared by the tenants of the three new stores — J. McLaughlin, Still North Books & Bar and Woody’s.

Hanover town manager Julia Griffin predicted that the new businesses will be open by the beginning of the upcoming fall term. 

Following the loss of both the Dartmouth Bookstore and Wheelock Books last year, Allie Levy ’11 will be opening Still North Books & Bar — a space combining a bookstore, cafe and a bar — in the lot that the Dartmouth Bookstore used to occupy. 

Sharing the remaining space from the Dartmouth Bookstore are two new clothing retailers. J. McLaughlin is a small retail chain with over 140 retail locations nationwide specializing in preppy men’s and women’s clothing that combines sport, work and play, according to their retail website. 

Located next to J. McLaughlin will be Woody’s, an independent shop owned by Hanover native Suzi Curtis. According to Curtis’ sales agency’s website, Woody’s will be an “upscale, mountain lifestyle store and mercantile featuring apparel, home goods, provisions, gifts and candy.”

Although Griffin said she predicts the stores will open by the end of the summer, she added that they may open a bit later due to intensive ongoing renovation plans. 

“Anyone who has done intensive renovations knows it’s always a challenge in a busy economy to deliver space on time based on the availability of contracts,” Griffin said. “The goal is to have the spaces ready by the beginning of September.”

The building’s owner, Jay Campion, said that the renovations are already well underway and should be complete by July, which will allow the three tenants to start setting up their shops. According to Campion, the renovation process has involved a complete makeover. 

“We’ll be rebuilding the entire storefront and have basically gutted the building,” Campion said. “We’re re-insulating and replacing the heating and air conditioning systems for this and dividing the space for the three separate tenants on the first floor.”

Griffin said she expects these new openings to be very well-received because they are businesses that appeal to the Hanover community. In particular, she said Woody’s will be a very welcome addition because of the owner’s familiarity with the community. 

“[Woody’s] will be well-positioned to appeal to folks in the area based on the fact that the owner knows what people are looking for,” Griffin said. “Men’s casual and outdoor retail will be appreciated because — other than J. Crew — it’s pretty limited in terms of men’s clothing stores in downtown Hanover.”

Most of the retail scene downtown is made up of shops that tailor only to women’s clothing, such as The J List, Indigo and Talbots. However, what the current shops and newcomers share is their appeal to the typical Hanover client, according to Campion. 

“[Hanover] has a highly educated and active customer base ­— a lot of it associated with the College and the hospital,” Campion said. “‘Preppy’ is part of what Hanover’s identity has been as long as I can remember, and these folks do it well. The retailers we’re talking about fit right in with that.”

Another important component of these stores is their curb appeal, according to Campion. For example, J. McLaughlin’s stores are located in retail environments with “neighborhood feels” and each individual store is “designed to reflect the town’s color, character, and architecture” according to their website.

The J List owner Jill Butlersaid that she wants to make shopping a fulfilling experience. 

“We want people to feel good about themselves when they come into the store, whether they buy something or not,” Butler said. “Shopping for some is excruciating. We try to have funny cards and items around the store. We just want it to be fun and want [customers] to have a good time.”

Butler also said she was excited for the new stores to arrive and sees the stores as an opportunity to make Hanover more appealing to visitors and locals. 

“I think high water raises all boats,” Butler said. “The more interesting our town is, the more people will turn to it as a place to hang out. Empty storefronts are a bummer.”