Bottom Line: As Walmart greeters see a rollback, security gates roll in in Lebanon

  • John Lippman. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 3/14/2020 10:09:56 PM
Modified: 3/16/2020 4:58:58 PM

For decades, Walmart had a hokey-but-warm tradition of greeting customers at the front door.

The greeters have been phased out. Now the gates are being phased in.

In a sign of our insecure times, Walmart’s West Lebanon store wants to install electronic gates at the entrance through which customers must pass before they can get to those everyday low prices.

Walmart has filed a building permit application with the city of Lebanon to install a $19,000 Technoport electronic gate system similar to the kind seen at sports stadiums and other public venues to control foot traffic and security. City staff currently are reviewing the plan.

The retail giant has embarked on a three-year, $500 million program to upgrade security in its stores, and the gates are one of the most visible components. Other elements of the security program include “computer vision technology” that scans products at the checkout lane to deter shoplifting.

Walmart spokesman Casey Staheli said the “customer access gates” are part of Walmart’s “broader initiative investing in people, programs and technology to become a harder target. We don’t want to just detect crime — we want to deter it from happening.”

He said the motorized gates also “are a strong visual deterrence to protect against theft. We’ve seen a decrease in theft at stores where they’ve been placed.”

At present, shoppers arriving at Walmart in West Lebanon walk through automatic sliding doors and directly onto the store floor when entering the building. The gates that will be installed can swivel open in the opposite direction in the event of a “panic,” according to the plans submitted to the city.

Security at Walmart, in terms of both shoplifting and physical safety of customers, has become a huge issue at the box store chain.

Local police department resources have long been stretched with responding to calls at Walmart to apprehend shoplifters. But in recent years a graver threat has emerged with active shooters, the worst occurring when a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, in 2019.

Earlier this year, the Walmart store in West Lebanon set aside two prime parking spaces near its front entrance for police vehicles. The move is part of a national effort by the retailer to accommodate the needs of local police forces but also reflects that the West Lebanon Walmart store generated more calls to the Lebanon Police Department than any other business in the city.

Red Kite Candytakes a flier

Red Kite Candy is flying into Hanover.

The Bradford, Vt.-based caramel maker, run by Elaine and Mike McCabe and their daughter Caila McCabe, will open a retail shop and in-store candy-making kitchen in the soon-to-be-vacated space of the Verizon phone store on South Street.

“It’s a little ironic, I suppose, in this retail climate to be opening a store, but this is part of our growth strategy,” Mike McCabe said. “We’ve been growing online, but you have to spend money to promote yourself online, and you don’t get that close relationship with customers that you would with them visiting a store.”

McCabe said Red Kite is aiming to be open in the spring before Dartmouth’s graduation weekend on June 14, when the town typically swells with students’ parents and families.

Red Kite Candy’s store will sell a full line of the candy makers’ caramels in addition to operating an on-site kitchen where people can see chocolate treats like turtles being made, McCabe said.

“We’ll do lighter stuff that is fun to watch in Hanover. The heavy-duty production of caramel will stay in Bradford,” he said.

The McCabes launched Red Kite Candy out of their home in Thetford in 2009 and six years later moved into a 2,000-square-foot former warehouse space in an industrial park on Route 25 in Bradford.

McCabe said they’d been scouting retail locations in the Upper Valley and settled on Hanover because of its steady year-round flow of visitors.

But McCabe makes it clear the Hanover shop does not signal an expansion into a chain of Red Kite candy stores.

“Even if this store is highly successful, we don’t plan to replicate this anywhere else,” he said.

About half of Red Kite’s candy sales now come from online orders — up from 15% five years ago — and the other half is wholesale to retail stores from Dan & Whit’s to Whole Foods.

But, new candy shop aside, McCabe knows where the sweet spot is for the future of the business.

“We are putting our efforts into growth online and aren’t really making a push to grow in wholesale,” he said.

Red Kite’s move into Hanover comes just as Hanover chocolatier My Brigadeiro is getting ready to move out of its basement store below Citizens Bank and across the street into space that was formerly part of the Dartmouth Bookstore.

As reported, Verizon is moving into the former Zimmermann’s North Face apparel store, which closed last year.

Snow globe company move shakes things up

Cool Snow Globes, the Windsor designer and marketer of award-winning hand-painted snow globes owned by wife-and-husband team Liz Ross and David Westby, is moving into new business headquarters at Windsor Technology Park, as the former Cone-Blanchard Machine Tool factory complex is now called.

Ross said she and her husband and their five employees will be occupying 2,300-square-feet of space that is being fitted out for them inside Cone-Blanchard’s former executive building, which was recently relaunched as a coworking space managed by Jessica Corliss on behalf of tech park owners Alan Cummings and Hunter Banbury.

Cool Snow Globes is currently jammed into a 900-square-foot office on River Street in Windsor, but Ross said the additional 1,400 square feet will enable them to build a photography studio and provide ample room for their design and office staff.

“We have a really large international business as well as large custom design business, and we do all the design, marketing and photography from here,” Ross said. (Production of the snow globes is contracted with Chinese manufacturers.)

“This is our third and hopefully final move,” she said.

Comings and goings

George Racicot, who has operated The Village Butcher for nearly 50 years in Woodstock Village, has put the business up for sale in anticipation of retirement. Racicot started cutting meat as an apprentice to his father, Herve Racicot, in 1957, at Houghton’s Red & White, which was located where the Yankee Bookshop is now. Racicot runs Village Butcher along with his wife, Linda Racicot.

Brodie Ladue, an insurance agent in the Upper Valley, is now the owner of the Brodie Ladue State Farm office — formerly known as Bartolo Governanti State Farm — located at Hanover Plaza on Hanover Street in Lebanon. Ladue is also an assistant coach at Windsor High School, where she helps out her father, basketball coach Harry Ladue, who stepped down as the school’s recreation director and has had the gym named after him.

My business is knowing your business, so let me know at


Brodie Ladue, of Brodie Ladue State Farm in Lebanon, is an insurance agent. Her occupation was misreported in an earlier version of this column.

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