PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Carr Hardware has won the small business of the year award from Independent We Stand.
And, in turn, the splash park project for Clapp Park is a winner. Carr Hardware won the "Indie Award" from the business organization and the local company pledged to donate the $5,000 cash prize to Rotary's efforts to build a new splash pad at Clapp Park.
"Our community supports us, and we support them. We saw that come full circle with our hurricane relief efforts in Houston earlier this year," said Bart Raser, co-owner of Carr Hardware. "Now, to see the support of our customers lead to an award like this, it is humbling and even more meaningful. It's nice to know we live in a community that appreciates the value and impact of independent small businesses. Shopping local is part of our culture; it's how we build community."
A customer nominated Carr Hardware for the award and, on Nov. 20, the Berkshires-based business found out it was in the top 25 of 249 businesses across the country after a first round of voting. On Monday, it was announced Carr was in the top 10 and on Wednesday, Independent We Stand named Carr Hardware the winner.
"This year's winner exhibits the spirit of what makes independent businesses special — a focus on both customer service and the community," said Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand.
"Carr Hardware garnered support through its mission to serve customers and the community by choosing a pay it forward approach with the prize winnings. The $5,000 cash prize will help pay for a splash pad at a community park. It's that type of local involvement and dedication we see from our nominees each year across the country; this award helps us recognize and reinforce those efforts."
Overall, Carr Hardware won some $50,000 worth of prizes. Besides the $5,000 cash prize, the company receives $1,000 for a small-business group of its choosing, $1,000 worth of Stihl equipment certificates, marketing services from Snap Retail, branding, advertising, and public relations assistance from the Meridian Group, three days and two nights at a branding retreat in Virginia Beach, and a plaque to display in the store.
Carr Hardware next year will be entering its 90th year since it was founded and prides itself on being a community partner. It operates stores in Pittsfield, Lee, Great Barrington, and North Adams in Massachusetts, and stores in Avon and Enfield, Conn.
The timing of the award is perfect. About 12 hours before the announcement, the City Council approved a borrowing to help move the project at Clapp Park along. The city is applying for grant funding, with money from the Rotary and the Buddy Pellerin Field Committee acting as the match, to completely revamp Clapp Park. The City Council needs to approve the borrowing and would be reimbursed the cost with the grant, if it is awarded.
"The commitment to the city from Rotary is to build the splash pad. It is a centennial project for them," said Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath.
Rotary is looking at spending $180,000 in total on the project. The Pellerin Field Committee has another $30,000 toward park improvements there.
"We are trying to create a more universally accessible playground and splash pad area," McGrath said.
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