Co-op Seeks $5.3 Million Renovation, Expansion of Hanover Store
Members of the Co-op Food Stores are voting on a proposed renovation of the Hanover store, shown in an artist's rendering courtesy of Studio Nexus Design. Originally built in 1963 (shown in a postcard at upper left), the store had previously been remodeled in 1985 and 1994.
Edna Barrett, a supervisor cashier, hands a receipt to Meg Carlton of Etna at the Hanover Co-op in Hanover, N.H., on March 6, 2014. Barrett has been working at the Co-op for 44 years and has worked through a few store renovations, including the most recent one in 1994. "The renovations usually aren't that disruptive," said Barrett, "the workers will do the noisy work after the store has closed."
Valley News - Sarah Priestap
FILE -The closed and shut down paper mill is seen in Groveton, N.H., in this June 17, 2008 file photo. An energy development company has made a pitch to the town in February of 2014, to turn the former paper plant into a transfer station converting natural gas into liquefied natural gas. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, file)
Jim Ballou, a produce clerk, restocks green onions in the produce section at the Hanover Co-op in Hanover, N.H., on March 6, 2014. A proposed renovation would expand the current produce section, among other improvements.
Valley News - Sarah Priestap
Hanover — The Co-op Food Stores’ South Park Street location has been renovated twice since its original construction in 1963, most recently in 1994.
Since then, the store in downtown Hanover has gone without much updating.
“The facility is just tired,” said Terry Appleby, general manager of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society. “Typically grocery stores are remodeled on a periodic basis, on a cycle. We haven’t had a major remodel for 20 years.”
During that time, the Co-op has built, bought or renovated its three other stores: in Lebanon’s Centerra Marketplace, in the former P&C supermarket in White River Junction, and on Lyme Road north of downtown Hanover.
The Hanover location is the member-owned company’s primary asset. It is its sole owned property and is second only to the Lebanon location in sales, said Appleby. Because it is such a vital part of the business, company officials are seeking member approval for a $5.3 million renovation.
The proposed project would help the store adapt to a changing marketplace in which more shoppers are buying products online, said Appleby. For example, the renovation would shrink the store’s paper goods section and expand the areas offering fresh produce and foods.
“We’re trying to rebalance the interior of the store to reflect new buying practices,” he said.
The plans include a 2,700-square-foot addition, an entrance onto South Park Street, indoor and outdoor cafe seating, new refrigeration and ventilation systems, an expanded kitchen, a full-service sushi counter, a meat and seafood smoker, and new LED lighting and bathrooms. The renovation does not involve changes to the Co-op’s adjacent automobile service center.
While the project requires a significant investment, it will also save money, said Kay Litten, president of the Co-op’s board of directors. For example, switching to LED lights would save an estimated $60,000 annually and new freezers could shrink the $300,000 maintenance budget.
“We can’t ignore this anymore,” Litten said.
The Co-op’s members will cast ballots on the remodeling project next month. The Co-op has about 18,000 active members and about 30,000 on the books. Members hold 10 shares of stock, which can be purchased for $50. Appleby anticipates submitting permit applications to the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment in April.
If members vote down the project, the store will be forced to make piecemeal improvements, Litten said. The board opted not to take that approach because, she said, it would “cost us much more, take us much longer.”
If both the members and the town approve, construction of the addition on the South Park Street side of the building would begin in the fall. In-store renovations would take place after the holidays, in January 2015. In total, the project is slated to take up to 10 months.
“We’re looking to be as efficient as possible,” said Litten.
The addition, which eventually will house the indoor cafe, is essential to the store’s plan to stay open during construction. As each department is renovated, it will temporarily relocate to the new space. The addition will also serve as a new entrance.
The renovation may be inconvenient for the store’s 109 workers, but shift supervisor and 44-year employee Edna Barrett is looking forward to the change.
“I’m anxious for it,” she said. “I’m glad I’m still here to see it.”
The expansion will help widen and straighten aisles and address bottlenecks in the flow of the 1,200 to 1,600 shoppers who visit the store each day. But Steve Miller, the Hanover store manager, said the store will retain a “cozy” feel.
Longtime member Pip Richens, of Hanover, wasn’t so sure as she shopped on Thursday afternoon.
“I love this store,” she said. “I know where things are.”
Shopper Susan Whitney, of Lyme, was less worried.
“I guess if they think they need it, it’s OK by me,” she said.
Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3213.