Before we get started, there’s something you should know about Melissa Haas: She was an opera singer for 24 years. So she has a certain… well, let’s let her say it: “Excessiveness. Which is what opera singers are about.”
You know what she means if you've ever wandered into Lemon Tree of Hanover, the gift store Haas opened in 2012 (originally down in back of where Starbucks is now, before she and her husband bought the old College Supplies space on Main Street). There's jewelry, o course. and watches. And hats, puzzles, pillows, sandals, drinking glasses, snow globes, socks, hand towels, games, candles, mugs ("My Book Club Only Reads Wine Labels"), and about a gajillion other things, so many that your eyes have a hard time figuring out where to land. "I never want to become stale," Haas explains "I want it to look full and fun and enticing."
Which is why you can’t help but think “Oh my God” when you get a look at the space Lemon Tree will soon be inhabiting in the PowerHouse Mall.
"It’s huge. It’s huge. It gives us room to breathe," says Haas.
Haas and her husband, John Haas (chief scientist for Applied Research Associates in Randolph, but also Lemon Tree’s CFO, fill-in clerk and shelf re-stocker, and chief handyman) are taking over what used to be three stores on the ground floor -- 3,200 square feet of sales space, almost double what they have in Hanover. They’re replacing InfuseMe, the olive oil and vinegars emporium, which has moved down the hall; Artifactory, which has pulled back to just a single location in Quechee; and Feetniks, which closed.
“I guess it’s that excessive gene again,” says Melissa Haas. “I’m always looking to see what I can do to grow the business. Hanover has been very good to us, we’re not at all unhappy. But there’s a whole Upper Valley out there. And there are a lot of people who don’t come to Hanover because of parking or because of the perception that all the stores in Hanover are too expensive—which isn’t true, by the way. I thought, 'How can we reach those people?'”
So what’s Lemon Tree going to do with all the new space? This is why Haas is spending part of her time these days trying to figure out what to call the PowerHouse branch of the store. Its current official name, Lemon Tree of Hanover, doesn’t seem quite right. “Lemon Tree Gifts is a little more descriptive,” she says. “But I may do Lemon Tree Gifts and More, because we’re going to expand our offerings.” Specifically, she’ll be adding kitchen gadgetry and textiles, Vermont and New Hampshire-made goods, a body and bath section. “Between us and the other stores there, people coming into the PowerHouse will be able to find what they’re looking for. We’re hoping it’ll help revitalize that whole center section there. I think it’ll be good for all of us.”