My Brigadeiro to relocate next month

by Lorraine Liu | 4/21/20 2:00am

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by Divya Kopalle / The Dartmouth

Despite a recent loss in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanover chocolate shop My Brigadeiro still plans to move to a new location next month, according to owner Ana Paula Fernandes.

Fernandes said that My Brigadeiro will move from its underground location on Main Street to an above-ground location at the intersection of Main Street and Allen Street — the former site of the Dartmouth Bookstore. She said that she hopes to open by mid-May and start “functioning full force” in the form of takeout, delivery, online business and curbside pick-up, but she added that plans may be delayed due to COVID-19.

The chocolate shop, which has operated for almost eight years, began as a Norwich, Vt.-based online business before moving to its underground location in Hanover in 2014. After running her current shop on Main Street for almost three and a half years, Fernandes said that she decided to move to a new location that would give her business more visibility to potential customers.

“In the beginning, [the underground spot] was a perfect location, but we felt that a lot of customers didn’t know where we were located.” Fernandes said. “Being on the main [floor] [is] a prime location and a better possibility for the business to succeed.”

According to Jay Campion, Fernandes' landlord for both her old and new locations, the space originally held by the Dartmouth Bookstore was divided into multiple tenant spaces after the bookstore closed in December 2018. Campion said that My Brigadeiro will share the 21,000 square foot tenant space with other stores, including Still North Books & Bar and the clothing retailer J. McLaughlin.

Grafton county resident and My Brigadeiro customer Derek Robinson said that the new location will be more convenient for him.

“I’m going to love it when I don’t have to deal with the stairs anymore,” Robinson said. “I’m excited for them to have a new shop.”

Campion said that he believes My Brigadeiro will have better business opportunities in its new home.

“I think [My Brigadeiro] will do better in terms of walk-in trade on the spot,” Campion said. “I think it will be well-received.”

He noted that there is not yet a new tenant for the underground space. 

Fernandes said that the transition has been especially difficult during the pandemic, as the shop is not running any business activities. She said that she has been using her own capital to cover the salary of her small group of full-time employees, and that although she has applied for federal small business benefits, she does not know how much she’ll receive.

“I put a lot of money on this new shop. We have a bit of capital to hold on to, but it’s a struggle,” she said. “Because it’s a small shop [and] I own it by myself, it all depends on me. It’s a bit scary.”

She added, however, that she has not been charged rent during the pandemic. Campion confirmed he had not been charging My Brigadeiro rent since February and said he is “doing my best to accommodate all of my tenants across the board” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fernandes first proposed to move to a new location in October 2019, Campion said, but she decided to wait to move until after Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

The new location is still going through construction as part of a building-wide renovation of the old Dartmouth bookstore, according to Fernandes and Campion. Fernandes said that the renovation is “75 percent done,” and that construction has been able to continue amid the pandemic, though there have been some minor disruptions in securing materials.

Fernandes noted that the shop is still moving its equipment from the underground space to the new location. However, she said that given the pandemic, My Brigadeiro has no clear reopening date and noted that the shop will not be able to host a “grand opening” as she had hoped.

Despite the hardships that her shop is going through, Fernandes said that she is optimistic about the future of her business. 

“I am very positive and a true believer that we’re going to come out of this stronger,” Fernandes said.

Correction appended (Apr. 23 2020): A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Fernandes as Alexandrescu, a prior name. The article has been updated to reflect this change.