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The Dartmouth
May 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Upper Valley to welcome three new businesses in 2024

Tuckerbox will open a new cafe in White River Junction, and West Lebanon will welcome a Planet Fitness and a J.Crew Factory.

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Tuckerbox storefront in White River Junction. 

The Upper Valley will welcome a trio of businesses later this year. Planet Fitness and J.Crew Factory will open new locations in the Upper Valley Plaza in West Lebanon, and Turkish cafe Tuckerbox will open a new bakery and cafe — Cappadocia Cafe — in White River Junction. 

According to their website, Planet Fitness is “one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers in the United States.” In a recent press release, the company announced the opening of its new location in late 2024, which will “offer community members a place to work out for a low cost.” 

According to Scott Breault, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Planet Fitness Corporate Clubs, the first Planet Fitness location opened in New Hampshire in 1992. According to their website, Planet Fitness focuses on establishing a “Judgement Free Zone,” which they define as “a comfortable, safe and energetic environment where everyone feels accepted and respected.”

“The demand for our Judgement Free Zones remains just as strong in the Granite State more than 30 years later,” Breault said.

Breault added that the new West Lebanon location will provide “the very best in equipment and amenities for members to improve their physical and mental wellness and offer our usual convenience and accessibility.” 

Nick Margitza, Senior Director of Leasing for WS Development, said he believes Planet Fitness’s new location will benefit West Lebanon residents. In a recent press release, Margitza wrote that the new location will add “a new dimension to our retail landscape, catering to the health and wellness needs of our community.” 

Margitza said he expects that Planet Fitness will improve customers’ experiences at Upper Valley Plaza.

“This state-of-the-art facility will create an even more enticing destination for shoppers seeking a holistic and active lifestyle experience,” Margitza said. 

Tracy Hutchins, President of the Upper Valley Business Alliance, said she believes the new Planet Fitness location might affect support for locally-owned gyms.

Whenever a new business opens up, “there is always an adjustment period,” where “people will try out something new just because it’s new,” Hutchins said. However, Hutchins suggested that other fitness centers are “not going to have to worry all that much” about Planet Fitness’s new location once this adjustment period calms down. 

“Planet Fitness has a certain kind of clientele that they will appeal to, whereas some of the other gyms are more than more like community centers,” Hutchins said. “Their target audience is going to be a little bit different than the people interested in Planet Fitness.” 

According to Valley News, another addition to the Upper Valley Plaza is J.Crew Factory, where buyers can purchase J.Crew mercantile styles at a discounted price. The retail store will take over the space previously taken by Maurice’s, a women’s apparel store, and plans to open this summer. According to the J.Crew Factory website, there are 244 locations in the United States. The West Lebanon location will become the fourth J.Crew outlet in New Hampshire.

A J.Crew store currently operates on Main Street in Hanover. J.Crew customer Bailey, who did not provide her last name, said she might make the 13-minute drive to the West Lebanon J.Crew Factory over Hanover’s J.Crew store.

“It depends on the prices and quality and types of clothes they have there,” she said.

Bailey added that if there is a “specific style” she is looking for at J.Crew, she will “pay the price and pay at the actual one,” but she may go to the Factory for more basic clothing items. 

Alvina Zhang ’26 said she does not shop at J.Crew, but is interested in checking out the new J.Crew Factory location. Zhang says she would be more inclined to shop at the J.Crew Factory because of the lower prices. 

According to Seven Days, locally-founded business Tuckerbox is also expanding its operations into a new bakery and cafe, Cappadocia Cafe, which will open next door to Tuckerbox. The cafe’s space is currently undergoing renovations and tentatively plans to open this spring.

According to its website, Tuckerbox has brought “authentic Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine to the Upper Valley” since 2013. Located in White River Junction, the dual cafe and restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

According to the lead server at Tuckerbox, Michelle Stroffolino, an important aspect of the renovation process is the addition of a wood brick oven to bake Turkish pizza, which will be served at Cappadocia Cafe along with other traditional Turkish baked goods and plates. While Tuckerbox is more of a sit-down restaurant, Stroffolino said she expects there to be more of a takeout focus at Cappadocia Cafe. 

“The previous business closed and the space became available,” Stroffolino said. “They just wanted to do something else over there, something new.”

Correction Appended (Feb. 12, 9:39 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated that Nick Margitza was the Senior Director of Leasing for WS Development and the owner of Upper Valley Plaza. This statement has been removed to reflect that Margitza is the Senior Director of Leasing for WS Development and not the owner of Upper Valley Plaza.