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Contoocook Village businesses will reshuffle over the coming months

  • Seven-month-old Rylan McPhail laughs at her grandmother Judy (right) showing her a toy while her mom Laura carries her around 3 on Main, a shop in Contoocook, on Thursday, March 20, 2014. The family came to downtown Contoocook Village to visit the shops and pick up a few things for Laura's birthday before getting lunch at the Everyday Cafe. "We decided to make a day of it," Judy said. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Seven-month-old Rylan McPhail laughs at her grandmother Judy (right) showing her a toy while her mom Laura carries her around 3 on Main, a shop in Contoocook, on Thursday, March 20, 2014. The family came to downtown Contoocook Village to visit the shops and pick up a few things for Laura's birthday before getting lunch at the Everyday Cafe. "We decided to make a day of it," Judy said.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Colleen Symonds, the new owner of 3 on Main in Contoocook, chats with customers while tidying up a new shipment on Thursday, March 20, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Colleen Symonds, the new owner of 3 on Main in Contoocook, chats with customers while tidying up a new shipment on Thursday, March 20, 2014.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • 3 on Main has their spring merchandise on the floor at the store in Contoocook. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    3 on Main has their spring merchandise on the floor at the store in Contoocook.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Seven-month-old Rylan McPhail reaches out for a fluffy chick on display at 3 on Main in Contoocook while sitting with her grandmother Judy (center) as her mother Laura browses the items in the store on Thursday, March 20, 2014 in Contoocook. The family came to downtown Contoocook Village to visit the shops and pick up a few things for Laura's birthday before getting lunch at the Everyday Cafe. "We decided to make a day of it," Judy said. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Seven-month-old Rylan McPhail reaches out for a fluffy chick on display at 3 on Main in Contoocook while sitting with her grandmother Judy (center) as her mother Laura browses the items in the store on Thursday, March 20, 2014 in Contoocook. The family came to downtown Contoocook Village to visit the shops and pick up a few things for Laura's birthday before getting lunch at the Everyday Cafe. "We decided to make a day of it," Judy said.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Seven-month-old Rylan McPhail laughs at her grandmother Judy (right) showing her a toy while her mom Laura carries her around 3 on Main, a shop in Contoocook, on Thursday, March 20, 2014. The family came to downtown Contoocook Village to visit the shops and pick up a few things for Laura's birthday before getting lunch at the Everyday Cafe. "We decided to make a day of it," Judy said. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Colleen Symonds, the new owner of 3 on Main in Contoocook, chats with customers while tidying up a new shipment on Thursday, March 20, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • 3 on Main has their spring merchandise on the floor at the store in Contoocook. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Seven-month-old Rylan McPhail reaches out for a fluffy chick on display at 3 on Main in Contoocook while sitting with her grandmother Judy (center) as her mother Laura browses the items in the store on Thursday, March 20, 2014 in Contoocook. The family came to downtown Contoocook Village to visit the shops and pick up a few things for Laura's birthday before getting lunch at the Everyday Cafe. "We decided to make a day of it," Judy said. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

When 3 On Main, a home furnishings store in Contoocook, announced in January it was closing its doors after 2½ years, customers expressed their disappointment. “We got lots of emails and Facebook comments that they were sad to see us go,” said former owner Judi McMurray, who, with her business partner, decided to close the store to pursue other interests.

Colleen Symonds got the news when she was shopping next door at clothing store Indigo Blues. That night, Symonds, a regular 3 On Main customer, sent an email to the owners asking if she could take over. “I loved it so much, I bought it,” she said. Just a week after the store closed, Symonds hosted a grand reopening March 7.

The opening of 3 On Main and several other businesses over the past five years, including The Everyday Cafe, Indigo Blues and Polkadots Gift Boutique, have developed Contoocook Village into a shopping destination. The uptick in interest has caused some growing pains: The next few months will be a sort of storefront musical chairs as one shop closes and others expand. But the moves seem to be going in the right direction.

These stores have “created a hip place to go,” resident Liz Durant said. “It has become a destination. People actually make the trek out to Contoocook to go shopping. . . . They never had that.”

Hopkinton resident Katie Winslow and her daughter made a stop after school recently, going from the candy shop next door to Polkadots, on the hunt for a birthday present.

“The selection has increased dramatically with all the new shops,” Winslow said. “It’s great not to have to run into Concord.”

There have always been stores in Contoocook Village, but not like this.

“In the past there were more businesses, real estate, insurance,” said Katherine Mitchell. For the past 15 years, she and her husband have owned the building that now houses The Everyday Cafe and the newly opened Sorella Flower Co. Sisters Hannah Roberts and Kelly Ashton moved their flower business into the Contoocook storefront in January. “There are more destination spots now,” said Mitchell. “That combination has made it a vibrant downtown.”

Making the moves

Christian Nardi opened The Everyday Cafe with his fiancee in 2010. “We have been slammed since, unbelievably,” he said. So much so, the cafe has outgrown its current spot.

This summer, the business will relocate three spots down Maple Street into a new building constructed for the cafe. The basement will house a bakery, the main floor will hold the cafe, with an expanded breakfast menu, and the second floor will feature a restaurant, where Nardi will serve dinner and drinks.

Mitchell said that after talking with three interested parties, she offered the soon-to-be-vacant spot to Evergreen Coffee & Tea. The owners, Jaclyn Del Giudice, a Hopkinton native, and Sean Frederickson, are trained baristas and plan to sell espresso drinks and freshly baked pastries when they open in the new location this summer.

Another storefront opening comes on the heels of a closing. The Whistle Stop Sweet Shop closed its doors earlier this month after three years in business. Julie Ford, who owned the store and was the only employee, said she closed for mostly personal reasons, but that the store didn’t grow as fast as she had hoped.

“It has not been an easy economic climate in the last three years,” said Ford, who will start working at Indigo Blues. “I think the town is just really beginning to grow, so it was a hard decision for me to actually leave.”

Polkadots Gift Boutique, which occupies the space next door to the candy shop, will move into Whistle Stop’s former location within the next month. The spot vacated by Polkadots will be filled by Indigo Blues, currently located down the street next to 3 On Main.

Indigo Blues plans to move out of its spot May 1. Property owner Dean Coburn said a couple of people have called about the space since he put it on the market two weeks ago. “It’s a decent amount of interest for a short time,” he said.

Growth and camaraderie

Both Indigo Blues owner LeeAnne Vance and Polkadots owner Jessica Dunlap said their moves are spurred by growth. Indigo Blues needs the bigger location, Vance said. Dunlap, who originally opened Polkadots five years ago in the space where Indigo Blues now sits, said even though she is moving into a smaller space, it will allow her to expand her lines in the greatest demand: kids, babies and teens.

“I am going to work with Indigo Blues to make sure if we both carry a clothing line, they are targeted at completely different audiences,” Dunlap said.

The businesses have begun working together on a larger scale, too, to tackle what most of the shop’s owners said is the biggest challenge – getting the word out to new customers.

Over the past year, the owners have started meeting monthly and formed Explore Contoocook. A sort of business bureau, the organization promotes the stores and has begun organizing monthly town events, such as a fundraiser to replace the fountain in Contoocook’s square, Vance said.

A common thread that unites all the businesses is the focus on local – most sell a selection of products grown or produced by Hopkinton area residents.

“You don’t want to take it too big because you want to keep the small-town feel,” said Nardi, who grew up in Hopkinton. “It’s pretty amazing the businesses in town are succeeding just on 5,000 people. . . . I don’t think business books would say this should work.”

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)

This story has been updated to correctly reflect the ownership of Sorella Flower Co.

Legacy Comments4

WOW... sounds Like Mitchell is doing some dirty business. the Everyday Cafe is only moving 3 doors down... its down right wrong to allow another coffee shop to move into their space, not to mention that Contoocook Village is a thriving and unique place because there is only ONE of everything; ONE coffee place, ONE pizza place, ONE flower shop.

Dimitri's Pizza, Louie's Pizza, Meeting House Pizza.

No, Amul. I presume your remark is in response to mine. I only meant that it seems like an odd business strategy in a small town in a downturned economy to start a new and presumably expensive venture by turning your old spot over to a competitor. That's all. There''s certainly nothing immoral or "dirty" about it, just an odd business strategy.

Contoocook really is a great place to shop. I love the village. But I am amazed to discover there's a store at 3 Main Street. I go to another place right near, walk right by it but have never seen a sign and had no idea there is a business there. The candy shop's window displays gave no indication it sold fine teas and gourmet chocolates. It gave the impression it offered only lollipops, gummi bears, candy canes and such. I would have been there all the time if I'd known what they were actually selling. I'd go to the cafe but they have a television blatting away and I won't eat in any place with a television--the opposite of relaxation. It amazes me that a coffee shop owner in a small town would move three doors up and offer their current spot to... a coffee shop.

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