Peebles Grand Opening: 'They Have Delivered'

By Susan BushiBerkshires Staff
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First Hartford Realty Corp. President Neil H. Ellis and Mayor John Barrett III at an Oct. 19 North Adams Peebles department store opening.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Within 10 minutes of an Oct. 19 morning ribbon-cutting grand opening ceremony, a crowd inside a downtown Peebles department store had grown to about 200 people.

A free promotional tote bag giveaway had been exhausted, but special sales that delivered cash register discounts in addition to advertised sale prices brought smiles to shopper faces.

Linda Connolly of Marlboro reported that she purchased a handbag with a "regular price" of $40, a sale price of $18 and an actual purchase price of $8.

"And it's a Hush Puppy [brand]!" she said as she showed off the label. Connolly's shopping companion Shauna Marhafer of Bolton said she was pleased with the store, its contents and its prices.

"I thought the store was great and I thought the sales were great," she said.

Better Than Expected

Mayor John Barrett III and First Hartford Realty Corp. President Neil H. Ellis attended the opening, as did numerous city councilors, including Richard Alcombright, Gailanne Cariddi, Marie Harpin, and Christopher Tremblay, whose electrical contracting firm was hired to work at the site.

The First Hartford firm owns the plaza. Barrett acknowledged that he and Ellis "did not start out on the best of terms, but I think we were able to develop a good marriage of the city and the retail venues."

Initial plans called for a Sleepy's mattress store and a dollar-type retail outlet at the site; Barrett strongly and publicly objected to those plans and vehemently urged Ellis to find more upscale tenants for the downtown's anchor shopping site. Ultimately, Barrett and Ellis were able to come to terms about plaza devlopment.

Retail sites at the plaza include Peebles, a Staples store, an Olympia store and a multi-screen movie theater. Staples has opened and expectations are that the Olympia store will open soon. The theater could open by late November.

"I think this project turned out better than we all thought," Barrett said.

A crowd of about 50 people gathered prior to the opening ceremony. The public excitement was perceived as a positive by Ellis. "It's open," he said of the store. "I'm surprised at the size of the crowd and I am pleased to see this kind of a turnout for the opening."

'This Is Very, Very Good'

Alcombright termed the opening "fabulous" and noted that when he first learned that Peebles was a likely tenant, he researched the company via internet resources. He was very pleased with the information he found, he said.

"This is a store known for quality merchandise at decent prices and a high-end look," he said. "They have delivered. This is very, very good."

Alcombright cited the downtown convenience of the adjacent Staples store.

"To think that I find so much within a mile of my house, it's great," he said.

Paul Hopkins, community relations director for Northern Berkshire Healthcare, attended the opening and perused store aisles.

"I saw a nice selection of menswear, which is a nice addition to town," he said. "I noticed a nice selection of shoes, both dress and athletic."

The ability to find suitable business attire in the downtown will be appreciated, Hopkins said.

"This seems like good news for the business community," he said. "And I can't wait for the movie theater to open up."

Tremblay was also pleased with the store's mens department. "The mens' section is especially good," he said. "And look at this crowd, this is just great. This is something that's bringing jobs and tax revenue to the city."

More To Come

City resident Julia Shade purchased a winter jacket for her 2-year-old daughter during a trip into the store. Eugene Shade said the store met his expectations.

"They have good name brands and good quality," he said.

Harpin said she believes the store hired about 45 area residents as full and part-time employees.

"They hired local people, they didn't come in fully staffed, and I'm impressed with that," she said. "I am very excited about this opening. We turned a corner in this city a long time ago, and there's more to come. This city is going no place but up."


Tags: chain store,   department store,   grand opening,   store opening,   

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By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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