Downtown Hanover sees business relocations
FatFace, a British clothing company, is opening a store on Main Street.
Multiple retail shops and restaurants in the town of Hanover will be changing locations in the coming year. Skinny Pancake, Hanover Haircutters and Verizon will be relocating, and FatFace, a British clothing company, will be opening on Main Street.
Town manager Julia Griffin said recent developments in Hanover likely reflect a changing marketplace. According to Griffin, during a time when the online marketplace dominates, particularly in the clothing and book retail sectors, it is difficult if not impossible for brick-and-mortar stores to stay afloat in Hanover, as well as other towns. For example, Zimmermann’s The North Face recently closed its store in Hanover and decided to sell its products exclusively online.
Griffin said that for many years, Hanover has seen a cycle of businesses moving in and out of various locations.
“In the case of this most recent round of closings and vacancies, a lot of it reflects what is happening in the retail marketplace, whether it is the Dartmouth Bookstore or a smaller retailer like A Little Spot of Red or Zimmermann’s,” Griffin said.
Griffin said that many stores want to relocate to Main Street locations, which are typically more successful than those located on South or Lebanon Street, because they receive higher visibility.
“It is amazing how much of a difference there is in the South Main street location versus the side street location, whether it is Allen Street, South Street or Lebanon Street — or Maple Street for that matter,” Griffin said.
Jeff Temple, sales manager of the Verizon retailer in Hanover said the store’s recent decision to relocate was a result of a need for more space and a desire to achieve higher visibility.
“We have grown over the last five years to the point where we have basically outgrown the space,” Temple said. “We need more room, more space for inventory — and the company is expanding, so we are making use of the office space up there so we have better capability to train and develop our people.”
Temple said that the new location is also a strategy to gain more customers.
“Visibility and foot traffic is a huge part of it,” Temple said. “From the numbers we have run and [the new space] we are looking at, we are expecting about a 30-percent increase in foot traffic as well.”
Temple added that since most customers stick to the Main Street strip, many aren’t even aware of Verizon’s location on South Street.
Verizon plans to open its new location at 63 South Main, the old North Face location, sometime during the first half of spring term, slightly behind schedule due to construction delays.
Ryan Romano, co-owner of Hanover Haircutters, said he will be reopening his shop in its new location on 35 South Main Street on this coming Monday. Romano expressed similar concerns, saying the move was mainly due to space and visibility issues.
“One of the reasons we are moving there is at this point we are upstairs, in the back corner of the building,” Romano said. “We’ve been there for 18 years and people still don’t know that we are here.”
Romano added that a Main Street location will attract more customers and will enable the shop to accommodate more employees and more stations.
While the success of retail in Hanover is subject to variation, the restaurant business, Griffin said, has always been strong.
“In the case of restaurants, business is lively in Hanover,” Griffin said. “If one restaurant departs for any reason, it is typically only a matter of time before a new restaurant comes in to replace that outgoing restaurant.”
But Michael Cyr, Skinny Pancake’s director of marketing and brand, said Hanover’s restaurant business has proved to be quite difficult. According to Cyr, Skinny Pancake’s decision to relocate has been partially motivated by visibility and space concerns, but also by Hanover’s high real estate costs. Cyr said with a low profit margin and rising real estate prices in Hanover, it is particularly hard for restaurants to remain competitive.
“It seems to be an ongoing trend in town, just the cost of real estate is a concern, especially for restaurants,” Cyr said. “We just weren’t able to produce the necessary sales to pay for real estate.”
Cyr said the restaurant will remain in its Lebanon Street location until the end of the year, and in the meantime, it will search for a new space.
“We have looked at some other properties in town, and we are actively looking for another place; we’re quite optimistic we will find it,” Cyr said.
Cyr added that Skinny Pancake’s Hanover location is one of the most important in terms of the company’s revenue, and the managers will work hard to ensure it can remain in town.
“We will always have an Upper Valley presence, and we really want to stay in Hanover, it is very important to us,” Cyr said.
FatFace, a British men’s and women’s clothing company with 15 stores in the U.S., will soon be opening in its new location on South Main. The small-scale chain store claims to sell lifestyle clothing and accessories, similar to J. McLaughlin, which opened in the fall.