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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Sticking to Budget Can Boost Your Emergency Fund

Submitted by Edward Jones

During the coronavirus pandemic, our health concerns – for ourselves and our loved ones – have been at the top of our minds. But financial worries have been there, too, both for people whose employment has been affected and for investors anxious about the volatile financial markets. 

And one aspect of every individual's total financial picture has become quite clear – the importance of an emergency fund.

In normal times, it's a good idea for you to keep three to six months' worth of living expenses in a liquid, low-risk account. Having an emergency fund available can help you cope with those large, unexpected costs, such as a major car repair or a costly medical bill.

Furthermore, if you have an adequate emergency fund, you won't have to dip into your long-term investments to pay for short-term needs. These investment vehicles, such as your IRA and 401(k), are designed for your retirement, so the more you can leave them intact, the more assets you are likely to have when you retire. And because they are intended for your retirement, they typically come with disincentives, including taxes and penalties, if you do tap into them early. (However, as part of the economic stimulus legislation known as the CARES Act, individuals can now take up to $100,000 from their 401(k) plans and IRAs without paying the 10 percent penalty that typically applies to investors younger than 59 1/2. If you take this type of withdrawal, you have up to three years to pay the taxes and, if you want, replace the funds, beyond the usual caps on annual contributions.)

Of course, life is expensive, so it's not always easy to put away money in a fund that you aren't going to use for your normal cash flow. That’s why it's so important to establish a budget and stick to it. When developing such a budget, you may find ways to cut down on your spending, freeing up money that could be used to build your emergency fund.

There are different ways to establish a budget, but they all typically involve identifying your income and expenses and separating your needs and wants. You can find various online budgeting tools to help you get started, but, ultimately, it's up to you to make your budget work. Nonetheless, you may be pleasantly surprised at how painless it is to follow a budget. For example, if you have budgeted a certain amount for food each month, you will need to avoid going to the grocery store several times a week, just to pick up "a few things" – because it doesn't really take that many visits for those few things to add up to hundreds of dollars. You will be much better off limiting your trips to the grocery, making a list of the items you need and adhering to these lists. After doing this for a few months, see how much you have saved – it may be much more than you would expect. Besides using these savings to strengthen your emergency fund, you could also deploy them toward longer-term investments designed to help you reach other objectives, such as retirement.

Saving money is always a good idea, and when you use your savings to build an emergency fund, you can help yourself prepare for the unexpected and make progress toward your long-term goals.

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