NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Staples in the downtown will close at the end of the year.
The closing, rumored since last week, has been confirmed by Staples, according to several media outlets. Calls to Staples corporate headquarters on Friday were not returned to iBerkshires.
The store opened in the newly refurbished Kmart building in 2006, along with Peebles department stores and North Adams [Garden] Cinemas. Since then, Oylmpia Sports, Planet Fitness and, most recently, a Sears Homestore were added.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said Thursday night that he had spoken with several Staples executives on how the office supply store could stay open but was told the bottom line was the reason. "It was losing money," he said, adding he did not believe the chain had announced anything yet.
Staples also has stores in Pittsfield and Bennington, Vt.
The closure will leave a hole in the Steeple City Plaza but Alcombright said owner Neil Ellis of First Hartford Corp. was "fairly confident he can get something in there pretty quick."
Ellis, contacted on Friday, declined to comment on Staples' plans. "I can tell you we have a waiting list for space," he said.
Other vacancies in the plaza, which includes the L-Shaped Mall, have filled fairly quickly. The former Movie Gallery and smaller adjacent space that had hosted several different businesses, including a kids' clothing store, is now occupied by the Dollar Store. The Fashion Bug, a mainstay for a quarter-century, was replaced by Label Shopper.
Only the old Kmart garden center seems difficult to fill.
Alcombright said signage to better highlight the plaza has been a discussion point but would likely not go forward until next year when the Hadley Overpass is completed. He said he had been assured the other tenants in the former Kmart were doing OK, including the movie theaters.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Local potter Daniel Bellow is being featured in the new Anthropologie catalog.
Bellow says he made some 1,600 pots (and mugs and bowls) and packed them off this summer for sale through the high-end chain's website and stores. Bellow is one of five featured artists on Anthropologie's online catalog and has a "full-page spread" in the paper version.
The former journalist was entranced with ceramics as a youth and returned to his passion nearly a decade ago, setting up shop in a carriage barn (as Daniel Bellow Porcelain). He exhibits and sells locally and still does some freelance writing on the side.
In an email missive announcing the availability of his kitchen-worthy work, Bellows thanks Anthropologie and "the studio crew, you know who you are, Sheffield Pottery, Stockbridge Gas and the art department at the South Kent School. And to my family, who put up with me doing my best work between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m."
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A small group of business owners is hoping to establish a merchants association in the city.
Working in conjunction with Develop North Adams and the city's Office of Tourism, the group will hold a networking event on Monday, Oct. 3, from 6 to 7:30 at Desperados on Eagle Street.
The topic will be how local businesses and shop owners can work collectively to promote business and shopping here in North Adams, particularly during the holiday season. The group encourages participants bring along ideas of how to market the city or about organizing events.
While many of establishments here are part of the larger Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, the city's been without a formal merchants group for years. DNA was started more than a year ago to more broadly bring businesses and community together to benefit the city. It positioned itself not so much as a business group, but an umbrella under which a merchants association could develop.
Those planning to attend the meeting should RSVP by noon on Friday, Sept. 30, to Veronica Bosley in the Office of Tourism at 413-664-6180 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone wishing to bring up specific topics at the meeting is asked to send them to Bosley as soon as possible.
North Adams Walmart Project Passes MEPA
By: Staff Reports On: 10:02AM / Wednesday January 26, 2011
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs on Friday cleared the way for the Walmart Supercenter to move forward.
New Secretary of Energy Richard K. Sullivan signed off on the project's environmental impact report, saying it "adequately ad properly complies" with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.
The 157,000 square-foot store will be built on the city's old gravel bank at the intersection of Hodges Cross Road and Curran Memorial Highway. The property is in an industrial zone and consists of 26.7 acres. It will include two points of access, including a reconfiguration of the current jug handle at the Route 8 intersection.
The project will alter 21 acres, creating 12.2 acres of "impervious surface" and 701 parking spots.
The store has received its permits from both the city Planning Board and Conservation Commission; it still needs a federal permit for pollutant discharge from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It's expected to discharge more than 10,000 gallons of waste water a day into Adams waste-water treatment plant to the south.
The developers have been grading the site and addressing prior wetlands violations and waste dumping on the property.
In his decision, posted below, Sullivan urged the company to further invest in clean technology.
"While I am pleased with the progress and impact it will have on the energy use and GHG emissions at the proposed North Adams store, I continue to urge Walmart to make a significant commitment to sustainability and the burgeoning solar industry in Massachusetts by incorporating solar PV into new buildings such as this one."
Construction is expected to take from 15 to 18 months, putting the store's opening sometime in the late summer of fall of 2012.
Here's a short roundup of some interesting business news from last month.
Bus Company Putting Brakes on Tours Dufour Tours is getting out of the tour business. The Berkshire Eagle reported last week that owners William and Barbara Dufour are seeking to sell the 40-year-old motor coach business before they retire. The Dufours, who also operate a regional school bus fleet of nearly 200, have four 2007 Prevost Co. motor coaches. The vehicles run around $450,000.
That's down from a dozen or so back in the 1990s. The company was started by William Dufour's father and uncle in Connecticut and made inroads into the Berkshires after buying Yellow Bus Lines in the 1960s. It now manages most of the school bus routes in Western Mass. and Southern Vermont.
Dufour Tours over the years have included multiday trips to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, DisneyWorld and Canada. Their one-day trips bring people to Boston for historic tours, to Fall River for shopping and New York City for Broadway productions.
William Dufour told The Eagle that several bus lines were interested in buying the tour business; if not sold, the division would likely be shut down.
Walmart on Track
The $17 million Walmart SuperCenter planned for the city's former gravel yard is expected to break ground this spring and be built within the next year or so. That's pretty much on schedule according to a rough time line offered the Planning Board last spring.
The North Adams Transcript reported last month that remediation work at the site, specifically for asbestos, has been completed and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to a reconfigured intersection at Hodges Cross Road that will eliminate the current jug handle. More cleanup at the site has to be completed before the land, owned by developer Ceruzzi Properties, is sold to Walmart and construction can begin.
Walmart is estimated to generate some $594,000 in revenue for the city, and bring nearly a $1 million in wages annually. The supercenter will be 157,000 square feet and include a 38,000-square-foot grocery.
BJ's Wholesale Club may have a buyer. The East Coast chain put itself up for auction in November; analysts say if a private investment firm purchased it, the company would be better positioned to move into markets dominated by its competitors Costco and Sam's Club.
The chain is currently building a new store in Pittsfield off Hubbard Avenue that's expected to create more than 100 jobs.
The wholesale club first operated by the Zayre Corp. is being eyed by Leonard Green & Partners. The equity firm just bought out Jo-Ann's Stores (which also has a location in Pittsfield) and may launch a hostile takeover if the previously announced auction isn't set.
Update, Jan. 5, 2011, 8:44 a.m.: The Boston Globe reports that the company will close five stores and layoff 500, including 114 from its Natick headquarters.
Defense Spending Benefits State
Two Berkshire County companies — Draper Laboratories Inc. and General Dynamics — are about to reap the rewards of military spending but they're not alone. A column in MassLive.com cites a new study by the University of Massachusetts that shows federal military spending has increased 146 percent in the Bay State in less than 10 years.
The Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security has pumped $146.2 million in conctracts to 237 Western Massachusetts companies just in 2009. The study states "The value of federal defense contracts awarded to Massachusetts firms has increased by nearly 200 percent from $5.5 billion in 2001 to $15.6 billion in 2009" and supported more than 115,000 jobs.
"Even as the overall economy has struggled in the face of two recessions and fundamental industry shifts, defense has surged ahead," writes Allan Blair, president of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass., and Richard Lord, president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
The study can also be found at our scribd.com account here.
Editor: In general, we do not provide links to articles from the local papers because they are archived behind a paywall within two weeks of publication. We apologize for any inconvenience.