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Excelsior Brings Greeting Card Co. To North Adams

Andy McKeever
Photo courtesy of Excelsior   
Oatmeal Studios' owners Joe and Helene Massimino sold the Vermont company to Excelsior. To the right is new owner David Crane with new General Manager Joseph Gallagher.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Excelsior Printing Co. will bring its newly acquired business to the city.

The Roberts Drive printing company announced Tuesday that it purchased Oatmeal Studios of Rochester, Vt., and will bring the inventory and warehousing to the city, which could translate into local jobs.

"The founders wanted to retire. We were in negotiations for about a month and finalized the deal last week," Julianne Fruscio, Excelsior's business development and marketing coordinator, said on Tuesday.

Excelsior has been printing Oatmeal Studios' greeting cards for more than 20 years. Oatmeal's sales team will be offered positions first and unfilled jobs could be filled locally. Additionally, Excelsior hired Joseph Gallagher to be the general manager to develop even more products and expand into other markets.

"We're really hoping to develop the brand Oatmeal more," Fruscio said. "It's a new direction for us because we are now specializing in greeting cards."

Though Excelsior has the ability to do its own design work, it will continue using Oatmeal's database of freelancers to design the cards. Oatmeal also accepts submissions on a daily basis, Fruscio said.

Oatmeal Studios was founded by Helene and Joe Massimino and has been creating and distributing greeting cards and notepads for more than 30 years. The greeting cards are printed with vegetable-based inks on recycled paper. 

"We think it's a great fit," said Joe Massimino in a press release. "Excelsior has been a part of Oatmeal Studios almost from the beginning and they have a stationery pedigree of their own that will serve Oatmeal Studios’ customers well into the future."

In 2005, Excelsior separated from Crane & Co. and, in 2008, made a similar acquisition of SeedPrint. Excelsior now prints and ships seed packages while doing minimal design work.

Crane purchased the Excelsior companies — Excelsior Printing and Excelsior Process & Engraving — in 1970. Crane moved Excelsior Process & Engraving to the Robert Hardman Industrial Park in 1985 and then announced that it will close the Curran Highway location last year.

Excelsior Printing Co. on Roberts Drive was purchased by David W. Crane in 2005.

Tags: North Adams, Excelsior, Oatmeal Design, Crane, greeting cards      

U Salon Opens In Williamstown

Andy McKeever

Karen Brown and Jodi Spencer opened "U" on Water Street in December.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass — After four years working at In Touch Day Spa, beautician Karen Brown has ventured off on her own.

Brown signed a lease at a 173 Water St. suite in mid-October and eight weeks later on Dec. 2, opened her own salon, "U".  She said Wednesday most of her former clients have already found her and business has started strong. Though she does not expect all of her former clients, she does expect to gain some at the new location.

Co-owner Jodi Spencer and Brown perform designer cuts, coloring, dimensional hair color, keratin treatments, shampooing and blow drying, facial waxing and manicures.

 

 

 

 

Tags: Salon, Water Street, Williamstown      

New Simmons Store Creates Allendale Alliance

Nichole Dupont

Ward 1 Councilor Christine Yon cuts the red ribbon at the grand opening of Simmons Lifestyle Furniture with help from Mayor James Ruberto.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Shop owners at the Allendale Shopping center have welcomed Simmons Lifestyle Furniture into its fold. The store opening is not only the furniture company's third location, it marks the beginning of an alliance between related shops to offer consumers a broader palette for acessorizing their homes.

"This has always been the dream for us," store manager Donna Riley said. "It was a collective draw. We'd always sit around the dinner table and say 'this is what we should do.' Now we're doing it."

The 130-year-old Simmons also operates stores in Adams and in the Pittsfield Plaza on Route 20.

In addition to their own collective skills as designers and decorators, Riley and her mother, Phyllis Riley, have also signed on with the other stores in the shopping center to form the Interiors Resources Alliance, which includes Stevens World of Flooring (which recently added a discount flooring warehouse and includes Organize It home and closet organizational systems), Berkshire Fabric and Wallpaper and Litco Supply Co., which will be highlighting its Luxury Bath Center Showroom.

High-end bedroom sets are paired with modern recliners and accent pieces at the new Simmons.

Simmons celebrated its grand opening in Allendale on Thursday evening with supporters, other business owners and Mayor James Ruberto. Riley said moving into the large anchor space, formerly occupied by Stevens World of Carpets, has been an "unbelievable" experience thanks to her new neighbors.

"It's been a little bit of a long transition but everyone's been very welcoming," she said. "The doors have been open for about a week now and the purchasing is the same as in some of the other stores that we run. We've been having fun here, though, because we can really push the limits on style. We can go from really contemporary to really traditional. It's all here to visualize."

Indeed, the 25,000-square-foot space is filled with different styles and price points from $200 armchairs to $8,000 custom dining room tables. The store also offers bedroom, living room and dining sets, accent furniture, recliners and mattresses to name a few. The pieces are showcased in various themed settings, including a "Jetsons" living room complete with a bobble-head dog statue and futuristic glass folding tables.

High-end bedroom sets are paired with modern recliners and accents pieces in Simmons' Allendale store.

"Between all of us you can do anything," Riley said. "For shared customers, we're doing certain discounts. It's a new way for us to do business."

David Gopfert, owner of Berkshire Fabric and Wallpaper next door, said he was thrilled to have Simmons on board.

"This is a great addition to the center," he said. "It's going to drive a lot of people in this direction. It's one-stop shopping. There's everything for the budget-minded client as well as the high-end client."

Jan Barranger of Litco Supply was also at the opening to welcome her new neighbors.

"I'm thrilled to death that I have all of the resources my customers need here at Allendale," she said. "How nice to be able to say to a customer 'just walk up the stairs and take a left.'"

The Interiors Resources Alliance, said Ruberto, is a reassuring step in the right direction for the city's economic growth.

"Thank you for investing in the city of Pittsfield. This idea is terrific," he said. "This is really remarkable because small businesses are the backbone of Pittsfield and they are creating more jobs here. This is a mini design center, and we're very pleased that you've invested here."

Tags: Simmons, furniture, Allendale      

Simmons Expanding Into Customized Lines

Tammy Daniels

Simmons Furniture is adding another Pittsfield location to the one it has in Adams, above, and in the Pittsfield Plaza.

ADAMS, Mass. — The 130-year-old Simmons Furniture is thinking 21st century with addition of a third venue that will offer customized options for the more discriminating consumer.

The company will open a 25,000 square-foot store in the Allendale Shopping Center in Pittsfield this fall that will offer some of its classic brand lines along with new additions focused on health and sustainable living.

"We have some great lines of custom furniture that we don't currently carry," general manager Donna Riley told us on Tuesday. "I think it really is something unique for the county."

Riley said the decision to open the new location was based on trends the company is seeing in consumers. They're more concerned with healthy living, selecting furniture and materials suited for their lifestyles and looking to spend money that may once have been used on getaways into "remaking their homes in a way that's about really living in them."

"We're noticing more and more people are coming in and want to do something more custom. They're thinking about how it affects their health," she said. That puts the focus on so-called green and organic materials and American-made and imported lines that offer greater customization and more versatile applications. It will also include accessories by local artists. And sometimes old is new, she said, such as the use of glider rockers to aid people suffering from diabetes and otehr leg circulatory problems.

"We're kind of going back to the way we did business in the old days, in the '70s," she said, recalling how her mother Phyllis Riley bought the Adams store in 1973 and began putting her own flourishes on the merchandise.

The new shop joins the 15,000 square-foot showroom in Adams and the 20,000 square-foot store in the Pittsfield Plaza, which will become more of an outlet. The three stores will provide a wide range of price points to ensure furniture offerings for every size pocketbook, said Riley. "I think there's room in the marketplace for all the furniture stores. "

In a statement, Phyllis Riley said, "This new location, named 'Simmons Lifestyle Furniture,' will hearken back to the roots of the original intent of the company: stylish, customizable, unique furniture at affordable prices."

The new store is expected to open in October; Riley wouldn't say which storefront in the center it's moving into because the current occupant has not yet announced it's relocating.

Tags: Simmons, furniture      

Baldwin Brings Berkshire-style Talk to Florida

By Tammy Daniels

 

Sherman Baldwin in his new studio in Florida — the state not the town.

Former "TalkBerkshires" host Sherman Baldwin has found a home in sunny Sarasota, Fla., on WTMY radio.

The longtime radio host made his debut on "TalkSarasota" last week in the 3 to 6 p.m. spot weekdays. Baldwin said he's trying to the do same type of show he did in the Berkshires, focusing on local issues — politics, business and culture — with call-in questions. He said it's the only show of its type in the Sarasota market, the 73rd largest in the nation.

Baldwin hosted shows in Connecticut and Boston; he's best known around here for his morning program on WUPE a few years ago and his independently owned "TalkBerkshires" that premiered in 2009 after the Capital District station he was working at downsized. "TalkBerkshires" was a success on WBRK but died in a blaze of controversy.

The show was a favorite drop-in point for local pols and personalities who protested Baldwin's banishment from WBRK.

In any case, Baldwin toldhe needed to get back on the air and after a spot on Boston radio didn't pan out he landed in Sarasota.

"I get to go to the beach every day, it's beautiful here," he said. But he misses his WBRK studio, going to Teo's and his Berkshire friends. "I miss the Berkshires dearly. I miss it every day." And while he was a brand name up here, it's been harder to land the big the interviews down South. "I was well known in the Berkshires so getting someone on the line was easy, now the say, 'Sherman Baldwin who are you?'" he laughed.

If you know Baldwin, you know he doesn't take no for an answer. Less than two weeks on the air he's already landed Gov. Charlie Crist.

"I'm doing what I love and that's radio," he said.

We're glad to hear he's back on the airwaves and wish him lots of luck.

 

Find Baldwin's new website (which looks a lot like his old one) here. You can also watch him livestreaming on the WTMY website (which seriously needs an overhaul — it's scary looking).

Tags: Baldwin, radio, TalkBerkshires      
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