Downtown: Is there room for two frozen yogurt stores on Concord’s Main Street?
Concord hasn’t yet joined the growing number of U.S. cities with self-serve frozen yogurt shops. That’s about to change.
Not one, but two yogurt stores will open this summer on North Main Street: a national chain and an independent shop.
Orange Leaf, an Oklahoma-based company with more than 200 stores in 38 states, will open at 70 N. Main St. The storefront has been vacant since Butter’s Fine Food & Wine moved to Sheep Davis Road last summer. Franchise owners Kristina and Jeff Hathaway of Exeter hope to begin serving yogurt in June.
A few blocks away, Dips Frozen Yogurt will open in May at 138 N. Main St. Owner Nicolas Harriman, a 23-year-old Canterbury native, plans to use local ingredients to build his business.
Both stores will run on the same business model: Customers choose a flavor, serve their own yogurt, add their own toppings and pay according to the weight of their serving.
Owners at both stores said they planned their shops before they knew someone else was doing the same thing down the street.
“We went ahead with our plans and I think we had already signed the lease, and it was just kind of a coincidence that we both decided to do it at the same time,” said Kristina Hathaway, who is opening Orange Leaf.
Harriman, meanwhile, said he had already signed a lease and paid a deposit for his yogurt-making machines when he heard he wasn’t the only one bringing yogurt to Main Street.
“So it’s going to be a little bit of a competition here, but I think we’ll be able to be competitive,” Harriman said.
And, both owners said, they’re committed to becoming part of the Concord community.
Kristina Hathaway said she and her husband don’t have experience in the restaurant or ice cream industries, but they wanted to start a new business together. They found Orange Leaf, and decided to open a franchise. The Concord location will be their first yogurt shop, but they hope to expand in the future. Hathaway said she was drawn to Concord due to the upcoming Main Street redesign project.
“So we felt like the city’s putting this big investment into the downtown to bring more traffic and more business,” she said. “And we
felt like this would be a great time for us to come in with bringing in a new business.”
Hathaway said she researched other frozen yogurt franchises before settling on Orange Leaf. Her shop will become the company’s fifth location in New Hampshire. Before it opens in June, they’ll renovate the building’s interior.
At Dips, Harriman is already renovating his storefront and ordering supplies. He plans to use dairy from Contoocook Creamery, Stonyfield Yogurt and fruit toppings from New Hampshire farms.
“I don’t want to be put out of business, and I don’t want to put (someone else) out of business,” Harriman said. “I hope that Concord can support two, but we’ll find out.”
Impact of the arts
A recent study showed that arts and culture brought $17.7 million to the Concord area economy in 2010. Inspired by those results, the Concord Community Music School decided to conduct an informal study of its own.
The school’s mandolin festival, held for three days last month, brought visitors to Concord from nine different states, Canada and France, said Peggy Senter, the school’s president.
Those 50 participants paid for 29 hotel rooms and at least 220 meals at 14 different restaurants in Concord that weekend, Senter said. She asked her guests to keep track of their meals on a large poster board at the music school. “So that’s where it gets really anecdotal,” she said.
One night that weekend, Senter went to dinner at Siam Orchid on North Main Street and counted 25 people who were there because they were attending the mandolin festival.
The larger study about the impact of the arts in New Hampshire was conducted by Americans for the Arts. The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce commissioned a study focused only on the Concord area. Its calculation of $17.7 million in fiscal year 2010 is based on jobs, spending for arts events and related transportation, lodging, meals and shopping.
Senter, who is a board member of the chamber of commerce and a member of its Creative Concord committee, said the mandolin festival’s informal survey simply proves that the arts do bring substantial business to Concord.
“What we’ve been talking about a lot at the chamber level, and at Creative Concord, is attracting tourists to downtown Concord,” she said. “And I think there’s the scenario where somebody’s driving by on their way to see and they stop by for dinner once, but there’s also this kind of immersion scenario . . . and they’re here for three days.”
Wonder Made moves on
Wonder Made is closing its shop on Warren Street.
But that doesn’t mean the arts collective will stop helping local artists “survive off their craft,” said Laura Loci, one of the founders. She and the 100 member artists will continue selling handmade goods online, and they’re working on other plans.
“We started as an artist collective – the storefront wasn’t our goal or our endpoint,” Loci said. “It’s more about community organizing and trying to meet needs.”
The shop opened last year to sell handmade goods. It will remain open until April 13 and return to downtown during the annual Market Days festival this summer.
Loci said the collective’s idealism – including its commitment to not raise prices or charge membership fees – made it difficult to keep a store open.
“We decided to close the storefront, so this part of the long-term vision might be over for now,” she said.
Want to weigh in on how to improve the view of Concord’s backside?
The group seeking to make the city appear more attractive from Interstate 93 will hold a May 1 brainstorming event.
Concord’s New Front Door, a group formed by the Creative Concord committee of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, is holding a charrette to launch its initiative. They’re inviting residents to brainstorm ideas to make the backside of downtown buildings more attractive, and the ideas could include lighting displays, landscaping or murals – though no decisions have been made.
“(We will) try to record as many ideas as we can,” said architect Chris Carley, who is leading the Concord’s New Front Door effort. “We’re not going to shoot anything down at this point.”
Carley said the charrette will include presentations about the area between I-93 and Main Street. Participants will then split into small groups and use aerial photographs and other images to develop ideas.
The charrette, at the Grappone Conference Center, begins at 6:30 p.m. May 1.
Flamenco and fundraising
A flamenco band is coming to Concord, to raise money for the second annual Granite State Music Festival.
The Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio will play at Red River Theatres on Friday.
The trio includes guitarist Juanito Pascual, percussionist Tupac Mantilla and bassist Brad Barrett.
“Fusing their distinct musical backgrounds with a palpable personal chemistry, the trio has created a distinctive and exhilarating sound,” the music festival said in a press release.
The Granite State Music Festival was held for the first time last summer at Kiwanis Waterfront Park. It will return for two days of live, local music this year, June 22-23.
The fundraising flamenco concert begins at 7 p.m. Friday. Admission is $25, and $15 for students and music festival sponsors. For more information, call 229-2157.
Spotlight on South Main
A speech from the governor and a hard hat tour will highlight South Main Street’s redevelopment tomorrow.
The state’s Community Development Finance Authority is planning events throughout the state to celebrate national community development week.
Tomorrow morning, they’ll highlight developer Steve Duprey’s building at the former site of the New Hampshire Bindery. Duprey used benefits provided by the CDFA for the new building, which is expected to open this summer.
Gov. Maggie Hassan will speak at the construction site tomorrow, followed by a hard hat tour, according to a release from the CDFA. The event begins at 11:15 a.m. at 47 S. Main St.