1Berkshire asked a few local businesses to share their thoughts and experiences about the upcoming #ShopLocal season. Their responses provide an intimate snapshot into their recent experiences, challenges, and marketing goals.
Home goods and gift story in Pittsfield
Laurie Tierney, Owner
The current market in the Berkshires (and everywhere) is a little scary. The economy is tough to predict, along with, of course, flu and COVID season. My recent, biggest challenge is that I lost my business partner to another career, and like a lot of businesses, staffing has been tricky. We are open six days a week, and still customers say it’s not enough. But our success is that we are next to a thriving hotel that had a great season…location, location, location!
I have probably over-shopped for the holidays. I know I went a little nuts on the books (my passion). I always get excited by new products and ideas. My manager Kate has been a huge help – you can see a lot of our fun ideas on our Instagram. Social media is our biggest marketing tool for the upcoming season. I’m feeling a little too cautious to spend advertising dollars this year. Maybe next summer I’ll be able to do more.
Dory & Ginger is a really fun place to shop and we have parking in the back of Hotel on North. Come pay us a visit!
Online shop for modern featuring magical wares for modern living
Kira Staubach-Smith, Owner
From my experience the current market for witchy goods and services is strong both in the Berkshires and beyond. When I first started Shire Alchemy, I wanted to bring goods and services from my corner of the witchy spiritually world that had helped me to help others. If they could help me live a better life, then I wanted to share that with the world. Small business owners experience lots of ups and downs, but when I started Shire Alchemy I was welcomed by the community with open arms and that has made my entrepreneurship journey much lighter. Knowing that there is a whole community of people who support and uplift me keeps me grounded during the more difficult times and makes the successes so much better!
A recent challenge and success I had was one in the same. I had to move my business into a new studio space, along with a move for myself and family. As I am the only employee at Shire Alchemy, it meant that I would have less time to focus on my business during this time and I would have to put some of my plans on hold. It was a very difficult time and I felt as if I was being pulled in every direction, while not quite meeting any of my business/family needs or goals but I kept going – doing the best I could at every twist and turn. Once everything settled and the moves were completed, the clouds parted and I realized we had made it through. Shire Alchemy has a new studio space and room to grow, and made it through one of its first big hurdles. This experience was a reminder that we will all have difficult times, both in business and life – that is part of life – but it is how we handle those times that will get us to the other side, a brighter, better side.
Preparing for the upcoming holiday and shopping season is one of my favorite times of year. There is magic in the air with the turning of seasons and the excitement of celebrating the holidays which is so inspiring to an artist and maker such as myself. This year I plan on offering limited edition seasonal boxes, like the Yule Box that will help celebrate the season and ease stresses that might come along with it. I will also be offering handmade intention candles and new artwork to add to the magic of the holidays.
Since my business is only a few years old, I have only experienced two holiday seasons. The first season taught me to approach the season with care, thoughtfulness and planning. The second season taught me that no two seasons will be alike but a focused approach will help ease the stress that comes along with a busy season. My approach is to focus on marketing efforts that will reach my existing and potential clients and customers as directly as possible. This will include a mixture of in person events, email marketing, social media/digital advertising, and select print advertising, but with it will also come a lot of social media and blog content that will help reach our whole community at no cost for themselves. While Shire Alchemy sells goods and services, one of Shire Alchemy’s values is to provide knowledge and information that will aid our community to create positive growth. Everyone deserves to have access to knowledge that might aid them in their daily lives and should not have to worry if they cannot afford to purchase something.
By focusing on uplifting each other and growing our vibrant community we are creating a place to work and live that is both stronger and more sustainable in times that are full of unknowns. Small business owners and entrepreneurs are fortunate to have support in Berkshire County, both with the residents who frequent our businesses and with organizations like EForAll, 1Berkshire and others. Supporting each other on a local level is one of the most important things we can do to keep building our strong, vibrant communities.
Award-winning craft spirit distillery in Sheffield
Michael Kowalski, National Director of Sales and Hospitality
Thankfully, being a longstanding maker of high quality spirits with a focus on the local community and businesses has kept our products and services in high demand here in the Berkshires and surrounding areas. It’s certainly an interesting time for us as a business; like everyone, we are navigating the supply chain and the market and are adapting to it. It has given us the ability to reassess how we’ve been operating, and make some big changes that we otherwise may not have had the opportunity to implement. For instance, we did a lot of work in the spring to make our distillery in Sheffield more of a destination for locals and for visitors. We built an outdoor pavilion to provide more seating for visitors, we worked with Berkshire Busk and local restaurants and food trucks to have live music and food offerings to accompany our craft cocktail bar on the weekends, and built a farmstand to feature the bounty of our 100-acre farm and botanical garden at the distillery.
I think our Cultural Cocktail initiative this summer was both our biggest success and biggest challenge recently. It was an undertaking to create cocktails based on the classics that embodied the essence of the cultural organizations and their summer programming that they were created for. We then had to coordinate with 15 of the county’s largest cultural organizations and partner them with 30 of the county’s hotels and restaurants to feature those cocktails, which was no small feat. The program helped the local hotels, bars and restaurants promote the cultural organizations that the cocktails were created for and allowed us to support those hospitality partners via training their staff on how to make these cocktails. It also gave the cultural organizations opportunities to drive business back to those local hotels, bars, and restaurants by promoting the businesses that featured their Cultural Cocktail. It was such a successful initiative for us that we are already planning on how to make next year even bigger and better!
The holidays are always a busy time in the beverage industry! We are also in the midst of celebrating our 15th anniversary, so this holiday season is doubly important for us. Here at the distillery we dove into our rickhouse to pull some rare barrels that we will be releasing only at our distillery through the end of the year: there is a gorgeous 12 year old whiskey made from Berkshire Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest that we bottled and released at the beginning of October. For the holidays, we have a 6 year old barrel of our Smoke and Peat Rum that will hit our shelves on November 1st, a fresh batch of our coveted Maple Bourbon is in the process of being bottled, and we are re-releasing our Samuel Adams Cask Finished Bourbon on December 1st. In terms of other preparations for the holidays, we’ve been doing a lot of work with our local chambers of commerce, retailers, and restaurants to continue to support our community, and to support the economy and culture of the Berkshires. Keep an eye out for us at your local holiday events!
For BMD, our marketing efforts for the fall and winter seasons at their core are no different from our year round effort to support local businesses, but the focus shifts a bit. It’s really two sides of the same coin – In the spring and summer months we focus on supporting our local cultural organizations and restaurants that are most affected by the influx of tourists via initiatives like Cultural Cocktail program and restaurant staff training. In the Fall and Winter we shift our focus back to the local communities and individuals that continue to support us year-round – we are heavily active in community events held by local chambers of commerce and the individual townships, and you will see us at most of the local events you frequent. We also take the time to work with local liquor stores by doing more in-store tastings and educational programs, providing holiday cocktail ideas and promoting those in local radio and print ads, and hosting more events throughout the county to keep the local community supporting the mom and pop restaurants and liquor stores that help keep us in business. This continued focus-shift gives us the opportunity to emphasize across all of our markets that by supporting Berkshire Mountain Distillers, you help support the institutions that make your community special – It’s a win-win.
Boutique offering handmade all-natural treats and more for dogs in North Adams
McKenna Burzimati, Owner and Founder
The current market for our business is very high! The pet industry will always be an ongoing booming industry; 90% of American households consider dogs a part of their family which means they want to give their furry family members a great and healthy life. Roxies Barkery was established to help pet owners do just that. We make only the best all-natural treats and carry only the highest quality pet products. Roxies Barkery provides pet owners the comfort of knowing they don’t need to worry if the products they are shopping for are okay for their pets or set aside time out of their day to read lengthy ingredient labels. We treat our pupstomers like our very own pets!
Being a business owner is a challenge. Keeping up with all of the changes in the world like COVID, price increases, supply and demand is a constant adjustment. I believe owning a business is a constant learning curve and we continue to learn as we grow! I absolutely love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Seeing so many happy wagging tails walking in and out my door every day is a feeling I can’t describe.
We recently took Roxies Barkery from a home business to a brick-and-mortar location, but a current challenge is that we have quickly outgrown our space already, specifically when it comes to events. This is our first holiday season owning a physical brick and mortar location so I am learning as I go this holiday season. Prior Roxies Barkery was operated out of my home, so I am doing what I did then and adding a few more things now that we have the store. We have done a Christmas countdown calendar for dogs the past two years, and they have always been a hit, so we are super excited to do those again this year. We will also be offering many other holiday items and organizing a few holiday events at our store as well. In addition, we will also be vending at a few of the biggest holiday markets taking place in the Berkshires this year which we are very excited to be a part of.
We would love anyone reading this to bring your pups into our Barkery and check us out! We offer a variety of handmade all-natural treats, all-natural baked goods, custom birthday cakes, all-natural ice-cream, high quality enrichment items, toys, chews and much more! If you’re interested in learning more about us we are on Facebook and Instagram. We hope to see you and your pups soon. We guarantee your pups will not be disappointed with our “barking good biscuits!”
We want to take the opportunity to thank everyone here in Berkshire County for the continued support over the past fifteen years. Now more than ever it’s vital to support local makers and business owners because they are the true drivers of local culture and community.