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Why I Love My City: Manchester, New Hampshire

Business owner and dog mom Lauren Getts shares why she loves living in Manchester, a big city with a small-town vibe.

By Brittany Anas on November 27, 2022

Joseph and Lauren Getts, Cofounders of Dog Hop Transport
Ethos and Able Creative

Lauren Getts, a proud resident of Manchester, New Hampshire, is the co-founder of Dog Hop Transport, a long-distance private pet transportation company. With safety and comfort in mind, the company’s fleet of Tesla Model Y SUVs transports pups across the contiguous United States and Canada.

Getts also is Vice President of Economic Development and Strategic Communications at the Greater Manchester Chamber.

Ahead, Getts shares what it’s like to live and work in this bustling New England city. She dishes on where to find phenomenal pho, points us to a must-see art gallery and shares what makes Manchester such a welcoming place for entrepreneurs.

In a few words, how would you describe Manchester?

Inventive, tenacious and dynamic.

What brought you to Manchester?

I grew up in a small, rural, New Hampshire town and lived there until graduating high school in 2008. Yes, it was exactly what you’re picturing: winding dirt road, cozy log house, crackling wood stove, ATV parked in the driveway, can’t see your neighbor’s house for miles. I almost just made a joke about everyone marrying your high school sweetheart, but as you might guess, I am guilty of that, too.

After attending college in New Jersey, my now husband Joseph and I lived there until 2015 before we decided to move back to New Hampshire. Our quality of life was lacking in that we felt no sense of community or connection to the people and places we were currently calling home.

When the opportunity at the Greater Manchester Chamber opened, I knew this was our open door back to New Hampshire. Due to the nature of my job at the chamber, I quickly came to know and support those making bold business strides in our community.

Manchester has a sound, a flavor and a rhythm that makes it a dynamic and exciting place to be. It’s a big city with a small-town vibe, and that’s what really sets us apart.

In 2019, Joseph and I decided to invest in this city we now call home by purchasing our first multifamily property. It’s an 1872 Victorian split into four units, one of which we occupy due to the proximity to Manchester’s downtown.

Historic Rex Theater in Manchester, NH
John W. Hession
Historic Rex Theatre in Manchester, NH

Share with us your perfect weekend itinerary that’s close to home. 

One of the incredible things about Manchester is that you have all the benefits a city provides without losing that neighborhood feel. Here you can become a regular at a brewery or restaurant, where people know your name and your favorite order, but still have a variety of choices.

My perfect close-to-home weekend itinerary includes:

Friday Night: No Friday night really begins until you’ve had a cocktail or mocktail from Industry East, where the owners are your bartenders, and you can order a “Lemme Get Uhhhhhh….” and they’ll whip you up something that suits your taste perfectly. From there, a show at the historic Rex Theatre might be the main feature for the evening. Before walking home, I’d take a quick stroll through Cat Alley, one of Manchester’s most whimsical places with a unique history. 

Tea from Cafe La Reine in Manchester, NH
Ethos and Able Creative
Alex Horton, owner of Cafe la Reine in Manchester, NH, and Lauren Getts, Director of Marketing & Communications at the Greater Manchester Chamber, enjoying tea on the patio of Cafe la Reine Downtown.

Saturday: I’d stop by Café la Reine or Hometown Coffee Roasters for a single origin pour over. I’d then probably pick up my “Little Sister” Big Brother Big Sister of NH match and we’d take my dogs on a hike up the Uncanoonuc Mountains (a 5-10 minute drive from downtown) or to Stark Park for a quick frisbee jaunt. We’d then go browse around Bookery Manchester for hours and decide on our next read. From there, I’d go shopping at The Terracotta Room, because you can never have enough house plants. I might continue and pop into Dancing Lion Chocolate, because you can also never have enough sweet treats. Later that day, I might meet my husband and friends at Buba Noodle Bar — Manchester residents are all about pho during any season. Then some fun and games at Boards & Brews, Manchester’s board game café.

Sunday Morning: Brunch at Firefly Bistro and Bar or at Chez Vachon on Manchester’s West Side. Then The Hop Knot, one of Manchester’s most welcoming spaces for all of Manchester’s communities. Chances are they’ll either have cornhole, trivia, live music or a drag show as entertainment for the afternoon or evening.

What do you love about doing business in Manchester? 

Manchester is a place where you can build lasting and meaningful relationships. From my experience as both a business owner launching Dog Hop Transport and an employee of the Greater Manchester Chamber (GMC), Manchester is incredibly accessible when it comes to connecting with the right people to help your business move forward and grow. 

A meeting with a staff member at the GMC can very quickly lead to getting paired up with free advising services with the NH SBDC and a coffee meeting the next morning with a local mentor in your industry. The community here is supportive and open to checking out new things, and it’s still possible to find affordable storefronts in more up-and-coming neighborhoods and make a name for yourself.

Career opportunities in and around Manchester include engineering, technology, education, the arts, banking, law, medicine, retail, real estate, hospitality — the list goes on and on. From world-class hospitals and higher education centers to media and nonprofits, a huge variety of industries are represented.

The Terracotta Room in Manchester, NH
Kristen Phelps Photography
The Terracotta Room in Manchester, NH.

What makes living in Manchester unique? 

Manchester’s history, from its iconic Millyard to its North End Victorian neighborhoods, is what make’s living in Manchester unique as its inventive past has always influenced its future.

Developers in Manchester are turning existing structures, like our beautiful mill buildings, into apartments. From brick-walled lofts to innovative artist-in-residence programs, Manchester’s housing options are diverse. Our city’s master plan embraces the idea of using vacant commercial properties for increased multifamily housing to ensure there’s a home for everyone.

Also, for a relatively small city, Manchester is bursting with culture with live theater, concerts, comedy, galleries, museums and independent bookstores all found here. Combined, the arts enrich both minds and the local economy. They’re a crucial element to creating a successful city, and happily the arts scene thrives here in Manchester.

But if I had to pick one thing that makes Manchester unique, it’s the fact that it is home to Taco Tour Manchester. Every spring Manchester closes Elm Street and area eateries feature a signature taco for event goers (AKA Taco Tourists) to enjoy.  

Taco Tour Manchester
Ethos and Able Creative
Buba Noodle Bar’s signature taco at the 2022 Taco Tour Manchester, an annual event that brings 20k visitors into Manchester’s downtown.

What makes Manchester pet-friendly? 

Patio at Great North Aleworks in Manchester, NH
Patio at Great North Aleworks in Manchester, NH.

I have two children … I mean, two dogs. Both are named after television show antihero protagonists. Dexter (after Dexter Morgan in “Dexter”) is an 8-year-old, 75-pound Belgian Groenendael rescue mix and Marty (after Marty Byrde in “Ozark”) is a 2-year-old, 60-pound Belgian Tervuren.

In addition to all the great hikes, trails and parks, my husband and I love taking our boys around town, as virtually every brewery, café and restaurant has a pet-friendly outdoor patio area. We are New Englanders after all — a little cold weather (or snow) doesn’t keep us away from outdoor dining! Many places even have takeout windows, so you can call in your order and pick it up without going inside, and retail shops put out water bowls for furry passerby. One of our favorite pet-friendly hangouts is Great North Aleworks, where the staff not only knows your name, but loves your dogs so much they might even feature them on a beer label from time to time.

You’ll also find that many employers allow pets at the office, and I’ve even heard of some that offer paid time off when introducing a new pet into your home!

What’s a little-known secret about Manchester? 

A little-known secret about Manchester is that it is home to the Currier Museum of Art. It’s an incredible art museum that also maintains two house museums, the Zimmerman House and the Toufic H. Kalil House, both designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The museum itself features European and American paintings, decorative arts, photographs and sculpture. The permanent collection includes works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet, O’Keeffe, Calder, Scheier and Goldsmith, John Singer Sargent and Andrew Wyeth. The museum is centered in community and committed to inspiring artists of all ages within programs at the museum’s community art school.

What advice would you have for someone considering a move to the Manchester area?

Manchester’s quality of life is second to none, whether you’re here to work or put down roots. Our community thrives on its diverse population, from foodies to artists, history buffs to outdoor adventurers. Wherever you roam, Manchester knows a thing or two about work-life balance.

For those considering moving here, I would keep in mind that Manchester has something for everyone. Visit the “Move to Manchester,” page on the Greater Manchester Chamber’s website to get started with a list of relocation services and helpful resources. But first, come visit us! Check out some of our things to do and talk to the locals! Whether you prefer to recreate, shop, dine or explore, you are certain to run into someone who will elaborate on what makes the place they call home so special.

If you have a friend in town, where are you going for dinner and what are you ordering for the table? 

If I have a friend visiting from out of town, I am taking them to The Crown Tavern and ordering the warm roasted garlic with fresh ricotta and tomato chutney for the table. Red wine, local brews, live music and the best burgers in town are to follow.

As our mill buildings bustle with a revivalist pulse, the Crown Tavern takes the same past-to-present approach just a few short blocks away on Hanover Street. Their experience is based upon two simple principles: never forget where you came from, and never forget where you came to eat.

What’s your favorite outdoor space in Manchester?

In Manchester, you don’t have to choose city life over the mountains. Or ocean. Or lakes. Practically every kind of adventure is easily accessible. Located right in the heart of the city is McIntyre Ski Area, the Merrimack River for boating and kayaking, 47 unique parks and an expansive rail trail network that connects the City of Manchester to the rest of the state.

Stark Park in Manchester, NH
Lauren Getts
Stark Park in Manchester, NH

My favorite outdoor space in Manchester is Stark Park. I am not exaggerating when I say I visit Stark Park daily with my dogs — sometimes twice a day! It is a 30-acre parcel of land between River Road and the Merrimack River, which was once part of the larger farm property of American Revolutionary War hero John Stark, and is also his final resting place.

Stark Park has mountain views, and a gorgeous “Walk in the Woods” to enjoy (with or without your dog) either by walking, jogging, biking, or cross-country skiing. These historic trails have been restored to give you access to the entire park, feature sculpture and art throughout, and connect to the segment of the Heritage Trail that runs along the Merrimack River.

Stark Park is also home to “Stark Farm Community Garden,” a farm-style production garden that fosters community, education, and sustainable organic growing practices.

This article was sponsored by Manchester Economic Development Office.

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