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Spotlight On New Business

Intuitive Ink

Donnie Blandin of Grantham, NH has opened Intuitive Ink, a home-based tattoo business in the Olde Farms subdivision.

A native of West Fairlee, VT, Blandin had settled in the Upper Valley as an adult and worked for local contractors as a stone mason before a work-related injury led him to seek a new career. Blandin said he was getting a tattoo at Tom Ball’s Tatunka shop in Fairlee when he decided he should open a tattoo shop of his own. “I knew this was what I was supposed to do,” he said.

“Your body is like a living canvas,” he said. “Applying a tattoo is like drawing a dream.”

Blandin had to undergo training to be able to offer tattoos. He relocated to Colorado, where he apprenticed for three months under artists Bobby Schmidt and Stacey Ainslin. “You’re only as good as the master you learn from,” he said.

The initial training required Blandin to draw for several hours every day, and was then followed by years of serving as an apprentice working under the supervision of experienced artists.

Blandin, who is licensed by the state of New Hampshire, said he hopes to dispel some of the stereotypes about tattoos and the people who get them that have evolved over the years. “When I was a kid, tattooing was really taboo,” he said. “But, it’s coming into the mainstream now.”

He estimated women make up at least 60 percent of his market. “You may not see a lot of tattoos on women,” Blandin said, “because they tend to get them in places that stay covered, like the small of the back. But, tattoos are very meaningful to women. They put a lot of thought into what they want.”

A lifelong artist, Blandin ensures his clients receive their tattoos in the safest environment possible. He uses disposable needles and autoclave sterilization, and also enforces a strict limit on the number of people he allows in the room while he is working. “Two people are okay,” Blandin said; however, even one additional person may create a distraction that causes a client to move.

Donnie Blandin is accepting clients in his home by appointment only. He can be reached at (603) 863-0628.

Nonni’s Italian Eatery

Nonni’s Italian Eatery is opening a third New Hampshire location at the Colonial Plaza in New Lebanon.

Matthew Mitnitsky, chef and owner of Nonni’s, had been looking for a site in New London for several years, said Manager Joella Maron. The new restaurant was slated to open in mid-November.

The original Nonni’s opened in Hillsboro, NH four years ago, and a second location opened in Concord last March, said Maron: “We’re growing fast.”

Upon completion of renovations, the new Nonni’s is expected to seat 75 to 80 diners, with a full-service bar.

Maron said they initially envisioned the remodeling efforts as a relatively simple facelift. Once renovations began, however, Maron said they determined a complete upgrade would be necessary in order to maintain a consistent décor among the three Nonni’s restaurants.

“We totally gutted the whole place,” said Maron. “We put in new floors, new ceilings, copper flashing, brick facing, everything.” They also created a new main entrance that takes advantage of the rotary recently installed on Newport Road, Maron said. The old entrance, which faced the parking lot in the Colonial Plaza and was shared by other businesses in the building, is now the back entrance to the restaurant.

According to Maron, who has worked with Mitnitsky since the original Nonni’s opened, the New London location will be open six days a week, serving lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. “The menus at all three Nonni’s are the same,” said Maron, “with the exception of daily specials. We like to let the chefs at each location use their creativity.” Chefs are encouraged to take advantage of local produce as it comes into season, Maron said.

Pizzas at Nonni’s are baked in a brick oven, and entrées include a selection of veal, chicken, fish and beef dishes. All pasta meals can be ordered for a single diner or as a family platter to be shared among the table, and all meals are served with bread and salad.

According to Maron, everything on Nonni’s menu, from the appetizers to the desserts, is homemade with fresh ingredients.

Nonni’s Italian Eatery is located at 255 Newport Road, New London, NH, 03257. Nonni’s serves lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, and is closed Monday. For more information, visit

Sugar River Barbers
David Cannistraci is scheduled to open Sugar River Barbers in downtown Claremont during this holiday season. Barber Eric Hector also is involved in the new business.

The location of the new barbershop is expected to draw foot traffic from the area. Cannistraci and Hector said they are pleased with the location as downtown continues its renewal.

“This is a really good time to be in Claremont, with all of the energy and construction taking place that is increasing foot traffic in the downtown near the Opera House and in the Mill District,” said Cannistraci.

Sugar River Barbers will be located in the Oscar Brown Block. The prominent two-story building contains approximately 11,000 square feet of space. The vintage Civil War-era structure had been in a decline for several years, and was vacant for the last four years until a substantial interior renovation was begun in 2007.

Now completed, the Brown Block is also the new home of Sophie & Zeke’s, a restaurant on Pleasant Street. Sophie & Zeke’s will be located next door to Sugar River Barbers.

With about 600 square feet of space and four barber chairs, Cannistraci said there is room for growth at Sugar River Barbers. Hector, who opened a barber shop in the Lebanon Mall a few years ago, will be dividing his time between the two shops.

Cannistraci, who is a Vermont native, has been a barber for the last 10 years. He spent seven years in his own shop, Cannistraci’s Haircuts in Brattleboro, before working in the Cavendish and Reading area on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River.

“Barbering runs in my family,” said Cannistraci, who is the fourth generation to pursue the trade. His grandfather’s barbershop was a well-known feature in downtown Springfield, VT for more than 25 years.

Sugar River Barbers will be open daily except Sunday. Hours will be Monday and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to noon; Tuesday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Friday from 7 :00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The mailing address is 2 Pleasant Street, Claremont, NH, and the telephone number is (603) 542-2889.

Route 66 Garden Center And Farm Stand

Tuckers Randolph Floral in Randolph, VT has a new name: Route 66 Garden Center and Farm Stand.

Owners Barbara Meaney and Gregory Winnie recently consolidated their two locations on Greenhouse Avenue and Route 66 into one prominent location along Route 66 in Randolph.

The owners also have moved the company’s production house from its former Greenhouse Avenue location to their home in East Randolph, VT. Relocating the production house is convenient for the owners, and doesn’t directly affect customers because production takes place in the early spring when the business is closed. “When you are in production in February and March, no one is buying,” said Meaney.

The business partners made the change after years of carefully observing the market. Meaney, along with her life and business partner, Winnie, purchased Tucker’s Greenhouse five years ago. They began to observe that once warm weather arrived, business moved from the production house to the heavily traveled location along Route 66. “About the third week of June it began to be busier there,” said Meaney.

Route 66 Garden Center and Farm Stand is housed in an approximately 400-square-foot building on two acres of land. It opens each year to coincide with the Easter holiday, and in the past has stayed open until Christmas. However, Meaney said that might change, and suggested customers contact them later in the season to see if they are open through the winter holidays.

Route 66 Garden Center and Farm Stand is a certified Proven Winners brand garden center. It grows annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and vegetables.

The business also offers container workshops, where participants can build their own containers or hanging baskets. “We try very hard to provide excellent customer service. Our customers are very important to us,” said Meaney.

The majority of customers tend to be from the Randolph area, although Route 66 “does provide a lot of road traffic and passersby,” said Meaney.

Meaney and employee Dawn Abbel-Fatah work at the garden center, while Winnie holds an outside job. Meaney’s background includes an associate’s degree from Vermont Technical College in Williston, VT, and a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture from SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill, NY. Meaney also has worked as a laboratory analyst; this is her first venture into the greenery business as a company owner.

Route 66 Garden Center and Farm Stand is located at 131 Route 66 in Randolph, VT. It is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The phone number is (802) 728-6222.

United Country-The Legacy Collection

Terry Davis and Shawn Smith have opened United Country-The Legacy Collection, a Woodstock real estate brokerage firm that offers auction services as well as traditional real estate sales.

The new company, which works with both property buyers and sellers, combines expertise from two sides of the real estate market. While it has an exclusive affiliation with Smith’s real estate advisory firm, Earth Asset Partnership, it’s also part of United Country Real Estate, a national franchise system that specializes in the marketing and sale of properties in and around the small cities and towns of America.

With more than 700 offices throughout the country, United Country offers an extensive buyer database and a large advertising presence that markets to more than 90 million households each week. United Country has been named as a “Top 25 Franchise” by the Wall Street Journal.

In addition to real estate sales and specialized consulting services, the Legacy Collection offers auction services that utilize the country’s largest franchise network of auctioneers. “Sometimes a particular property is more suited to the auction method of real estate sales than the traditional methods,” said Smith.

Mary Ellen McCue has joined United Country-The Legacy Collection as principal broker. McCue spent 10 years marketing and selling real estate for the local affiliate of Christie’s, where she listed and sold some of Vermont’s finest properties.

Smith worked with McCue for several years before starting Earth Asset. “She brings tremendous marketing experience to The Legacy Collection, and is a perfectionist in all she does,” said Smith. McCue studied design and marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and earned her bachelor’s degree with honors from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY. “McCue’s background in advertising on Madison Avenue provides her with a clear understanding of the power of good marketing and how it can drive sales,” said Smith.

McCue and Smith participated in the sale of Charles Bronson’s estate not long before joining forces. Smith now works under the Earth Asset banner with the new property owners, handling everything from property tax appeal representation to overseeing the property’s enrollment in Vermont’s Current Use Program.

“The Bronson estate is just one of many examples of this marketing-consulting relationship that I develop with clients,” said Smith. “The decision to purchase the United Country franchise was grounded in the growing need I had to provide my consulting clients with brokerage services.”

Co-owner Terry Davis grew up in Michigan, but has made her home in the Upper Valley for more than 30 years. Davis said it’s her love of the outdoors and an appreciation for the natural beauty of Vermont that brought her back and kept her here. Davis has a broad work history including carpentry, woodworking, sports instruction, property management and gardening.

Earth Asset, housed just a few doors down from The Legacy Collection, offers a blend of law, land planning and appraisal expertise. Smith often undertakes complicated tasks including conservation planning and valuation analysis, institutional asset planning and predisposition planning and valuation analysis.

Smith is qualified to prepare appraisals for IRS estate settlement and charitable gifting purposes. In addition to her advisory services, she has participated in marketing and sales projects totaling more than $45 million. She has worked both in the country and internationally. Recently, Smith completed a project for the World Wildlife Fund and World Bank in Bolivia and Peru.

Smith is a graduate of Iowa State University and Vermont Law School, where she earned her juris doctor and master’s degree in environmental law. Smith also is a licensed certified general appraiser in several states, and a licensed real estate agent in Vermont. She is on the board of the Upper Valley Planned Giving Council, and is the current chairwoman of Leave a Legacy.

United Country-The Legacy Collection is based in Woodstock. The telephone number is (802) 457-6115, and its e-mail address is The firm’s Web site is, and Earth Asset is at

Jake’s Coffee Company
Motorists in Lebanon, NH can grab some coffee and fresh pastries while getting their cars washed at Jake’s Coffee Company.

The coffee shop, which opened during the summer along Lebanon’s Miracle Mile, offers a variety of fresh locally baked pastries, coffee, tea, latte, cocoa and juices for take-out and for inside dining. There also is a drive-up window. Adjacent to the café is a two-bay automated carwash owned by Jake’s.

Ed Kerrigan, who owns the coffee shop, also has owned and operated Jake’s Market & Deli on Mechanic Street for 12 years. Kerrigan said he thought the time was right to open a fresh coffee shop along Lebanon’s Miracle Mile.

He purchased the approximately six-acre property adjacent to the Mascoma River in 2005. The property had several old buildings when Kerrigan acquired it; the plaza now houses the new Service Credit Union branch in addition to Jake’s.

Kerrigan said the car wash was included in plans for Jake’s, because three car wash facilities in Lebanon have closed within the past few years.

The location’s close proximity to Interstate 89 helps attract motorists passing through the area. The adjacent touch-free car wash is designed to be open year-round.

Breakfast and lunch menus at Jake’s include Panini sandwiches, wraps and salads as well as a variety of beverages. “We serve breakfast all day, and that is what many people like,” said Ami Moore, manager of Jake’s.

The prior history of the property, still known by many local residents as the honey gardens, was a dairy farm until late in the 20th century before being used for several years as an apiary. Great Bow Storage, also owned by Kerrigan, has been on the site for 20 years. Kerrigan said there have been other shops on the parcel including auto repair shops and a glass store for window replacement.

Next to Jake’s on Kerrigan’s property is a 12,000 square-foot building under construction and scheduled for completion in December. Kerrigan said tenants expected to move into the retail building before year’s end are Creative Lighting Designs & Décor, Cabinetry Concept and Surface Solutions.

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