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Biz Briefs: Mr. Tire, Tax Holiday, Business Directory
Staff Reports On: 05:27PM / Thursday July 30, 2015
Don't worry, Mister Tire will still be here when the snow flies.

Tired of Rumors

Larry Davis of Mister Tire in North Adams is assuring his many, many patrons that the 38-year-old family business is definitely not closing.

"It's come to our attention that the rumor about town has us closing our doors, or being sold to the highest bidder. We'd like to take the time to assure the community that neither of these things are true," the company posted on its Facebook page.

Rather, Davis will be spending less time at the shop, with his children Matt, Mike, and Tori, and general manager Scott taking over more of the operation.

"Larry's children will continue to provide the best service and pricing in the Berkshires," the post states. "As always we'd like to thank our loyal customers for their years of trust, and look forward to the future with you all."



Tax Holiday

After quibbling about the potential revenue loss, the Legislature on Friday passed a tax holiday weekend, just live everyone knew it would

This year's tax holiday is Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16. Purchases under $2,500 will not be charged the state's 6.25 percent sales tax. It excludes vehicles, motorized boats, tobacco, meals and utilities.

The tax holiday has been instituted yearly since 2005, with the exception of 2009. The Legislature has been called on to make it an regularly occurring event, but lawmakers seem reluctant to give up the annual "will they or won't they" suspense.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli says the holiday is a boost to the economy, drawing in visitors from nearby states to spend money.

"Historically, we have seen people from neighboring states with higher tax rates come into southern Berkshire and Hampden counties to shop during the sales tax holiday weekend," he said. "While they’re here, they eat at our restaurants and make a day of it. That's money coming into these small towns that wouldn't be there otherwise.”



Supporting Hilltown Business

Next year's edition of the Hilltown Business Directory is soliciting listings. The 30-year-old directory published by the Hilltown Community Development Corp. is delivered the 16,500 households in 21 towns in Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin counties each January.

It annually lists more than 300 hilltown businesses and is designed to promote and support local business. "I had a tremendous response last year. I will definitely advertise again!" says one local business.
 
Reservation forms are available at www.hilltowncdc.org or from Seth Isman at 413-296-4536 ext. 112 or at sethi@hilltowncdc.org. The deadline is Sept. 14.



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Berkshire Eagle Parent Mulling Newspaper Sales
On: 01:13PM / Friday September 12, 2014

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Eagle's parent company revealed it may be looking to sell off all or parts of its newspaper business.

Digital First Media CEO John Paton announced on Friday that the company is using investment bank UBS to review "strategic alternatives."

"Strategic alternatives — what does that mean exactly?

"Well, it could mean we decide to sell the company. Or sell parts of it. Or expand it. Or stay the course," Paton posted on his blog.

It's been rumored the company has been trying to cut $100 million out of its overall operating budget this year.

DFM operates Digital First Ventures, 21st Century Media and MediaNews Group, under which New England Newspapers falls. The regional group consists of The Eagle and Vermont papers the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and the Manchester Journal.

MediaNews Group, based in Denver, purchased the local papers in the 1990s and declared bankruptcy in 2010. The newspaper group and the Journal Register group, which also had been through bankruptcies, were both acquired by Alden Global Capital; DFM was created to manage the properties and develop a digital strategy.

The results have been mixed. New England Newspapers closed the 170-year-old North Adams Transcript and the weekly Advocate in January. There also have been a number of layoffs and outsourcing within the local papers over the past few years, and a series of layoffs at DFM's other holdings over the past few months.

DFM in April shuttered its much ballyhooed "Thunderdome" news project and last month put a number of its newspaper buildings up for sale, including. Newspaper Guild staff working at some of its major properties have advertised for "local, community-minded buyers for their newsrooms."

Paton, however, in his post said, "After a rocky five years, the newspaper industry is firmly back on its feet again."



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Digitial First Puts Vermont News Buildings on the Market
Staff Reports On: 11:13PM / Tuesday August 19, 2014

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Digital First Media, owner of New England Newspapers, is shedding itself of more real estate.

On the market along with The Berkshire Eagle Clocktower building are the locations of its three Vermont papers: Bennington Banner, the Brattleboro Reformer ($850,000) and the weekly Manchester Journal ($275,00).

The company announced on Tuesday it was putting 51 properties more properties on the market, for a total of 70 with a value of about $85 million, according to reports in the Denver Post, DFM's flagship paper.

In a press release from Twenty Lakes Holdings, the company's real estate management firm, posted on Poynter, Steve Rossi, president and chief operating officer of Digital First Media, said the strategy was to free "the company from the constraints of being overburdened with underutilized properties."

Real estate broker Praxis Commercial has the listings and prices on its website but not for the Banner, which shows up on a list from Twenty Lakes acquired by Poynter.

Digital First has been asking $2.5 million for the Clocktower Building on South Church Street. Its also selling the Sentinel & Enterprise building in Fitchburg and a printing plant in Devens and the Troy (N.Y.) Record building.

The company shuttered the 15-year-old North Adams Transcript and the Advocate Weekly earlier this year and laid off a number of people.

It's been widely rumored that DFM is being forced to cut a $100 million from its operating budget and that it may be preparing newspapers, not just buildings, for sale. The company closed its much-ballyhooed Thunderdome in April. DFM, which took over management from bankrupt MediaNews Group, has some 10,000 employees and nearly 300 newspapers.



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Berkshire Chamber, Neal Hosting Facebook for Business Workshop
On: 03:21PM / Monday March 24, 2014

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A free workshop is being offered to local businesses trying to understand how to use Facebook to promote their products and services.

Facebook's "Small Business Boost" program will offer more than 100 small-business owners lessons in how to optimize their presence on the world's largest social network. U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal will kick off the event and meet attendees.

The event will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 28, at the Crowne Plaza; registration begins at 8:30.

"I am very pleased to be a part of this exciting event with Facebook in Pittsfield that will be a great benefit to many small businesses in Berkshire County and beyond," Neal said in a statement. "Our regional entrepreneurs should take this unique opportunity to learn how to maximize their social media skills from Facebook experts. With the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce as our co-host, I am confident that this seminar will help promote local business development, and prove to be at great success."

Attendees will also hear firsthand from local businesses and nonprofits that have found success through Facebook.

There are more than 2 billion connections between local businesses and people who use Facebook and more than 25 million small businesses using Facebook to connect with customers, according to the social network. In an average week, there are more than 645 million views of, and 13 million comments on, local business Facebook Pages.

"At the Berkshire Chamber, one of our top priorities is supporting small businesses, so we are thrilled to be sponsoring this event. Attendees will hear from Facebook's small-business team and learn best practices and strategies for utilizing Facebook, in addition to hearing some fantastic success stories," said June Roy-Martin, interim president & CEO of the Berkshire Chamber. "Not only does social media help local businesses advertise their goods and services, but it is also important to engaging with their consumers. I thank Facebook for bringing their team to the Berkshires and for involving the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce in the planning process."

Examples of successful use of Facebook as business tool can be found here.
 



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Winstanley Wins Big at Annual ADDY Awards
On: 07:33PM / Friday March 21, 2014

LENOX, Mass. – Recording the most wins of any single agency of the evening, Winstanley Partners garnered four gold and 10 silver ADDY awards this month at the annual competition sponsored by the American Advertising Federation and hosted by the Albany AdClub in New York.

The ADDY awards honor creative work in the fields of marketing and advertising in several forms, ranging from print design to television, web, and radio production to elements of advertising, such as logo design and photography.

Winstanley Partners, based in the Berkshires, earned its awards for work completed in 2013 for a wide range of clients, both national and local. The agency competed against other agencies in the greater Albany area, which is part of the American Advertising Federation's District 2.

Its four gold awards move automatically to the next level of competition, to be judged against work created in six Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions: New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Winning submissions from that level of competition move further to the national level.

Three of the agency's Gold ADDYs were awarded for work completed for Balderdash Cellars of Pittsfield, which teamed with Winstanley Partners to create bottle labels, promotional materials, and more for a wide array of wines launched publicly in 2013. The winery's Fruit of the Boot rosé will be well represented at the next level of competition, with an original illustration, poster design and packaging design each moving on.

A fourth gold ADDY went to a national television spot created for Spalding, in honor of its 30th anniversary as the official NBA game ball.

In addition, Winstanley Partners took home 10 silver awards:

• Balderdash Cellars packaging campaign, Truth Serum wines
• Balderdash Cellars packaging design, Bao Bao Sauvignon Blanc
• Spalding integrated campaign, 30th Anniversary Program
Pelican ProGear Cooler Brochure
• Pelican ProGear Cooler ‘Yeti’ Internet commercial
• Pelican ProGear Cooler ‘Desert’ National television spot
Nejaime's Wine Cellars logo design
Mestek special event invitation
Quatic Apparel consumer products website
• Winstanley Partners Boxing Day ornament

The agency will compete at the local level again as part of District 1, through awards hosted by the AdClub of Western Mass. For more information, visit Winstanley.com.



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News Headlines
Fall Foliage Festival Calling on All Grand Marshals
Berkshire Force 14s Open World Series With Two Wins
SteepleCats Clinch Playoff Spot With Road Win
Guest Column: Cheshire Override Will Fund Schools
Pittsfield Offers Community Development Director to Florida Woman
'Southpaw': Winner by a Split Decision
Berkshire United Way Announces New Hires, Promotions
Adams Aces Down Spiders in Berkshire Adult Baseball League
10th Annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow Set for Aug. 8-9
Cultural Pittsfield This Week: July 31-Aug. 6

 


Bill Schmick separates the bull from the bears in his weekly columns on investing and market wrap-ups.



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Recent Entries:
Biz Briefs: Mr. Tire, Tax Holiday, Business Directory
Berkshire Eagle Parent Mulling Newspaper Sales
Digitial First Puts Vermont News Buildings on the Market
Berkshire Chamber, Neal Hosting Facebook for Business Workshop
Winstanley Wins Big at Annual ADDY Awards
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