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The original Catwalk Boutique, located at 325 Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington, opened in May 2014.

Biz Briefs: Humane Society Opening Second Catwalk Boutique

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Catwalk Times Two

Berkshire Humane Society will open a second location of Catwalk Boutique, its successful women's resale shop, in downtown Lenox this coming winter/spring. Dates are to be determined. The original Catwalk Boutique, located at 325 Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington, opened in May 2014. The shop specializes in affordable women’s clothing with an emphasis on designer and upscale labels, current styles, and contemporary fashion. All clothing is like-new or very gently used. Shoppers can also purchase handbags, jewelry, shoes, and accessories such as scarves, hats, and gloves. All proceeds from the shop benefit Berkshire Humane Society.

"Our shop in Great Barrington has done so well," said John Perreault, executive director for BHS. "We hope this second shop will bring us even closer to our community and give people in Lenox and Pittsfield a new place to shop. We'd love to have events in Lenox, for both fundraising and adoptions. This shop is a great opportunity for us to close the gap in our budget. We need this revenue to help us fund all the programs and services that benefit both people and animals. Money has been very tight, as always. So this is a very important endeavor for our shelter.”

The new location is in a recently renovated building on Church Street next door to Alta and Patisserie Lenox. Catwalk Boutique is entirely stocked by community donations. A charitable clothing drive to collect items for the Lenox store kicks off on Monday, Sept. 24. All women's clothing and outerwear, jewelry, shoes, handbags, wallets, scarves, hats, and gloves will be accepted. Not accepted are lingerie, undergarments, bathing suits, or men's or children's clothing. Donations may be dropped off at Berkshire Humane Society at 214 Barker Road in Pittsfield and Purradise at 301 Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington. Pick-ups in Lenox may be scheduled by sending an email.


Personal finance classes

The First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ of Hinsdale, will offer "Every Budget Can Get Better: Financial Wellness for All Ages and Stages," a five-week series of classes addressing key issues of personal finances. The purpose of the class is to give participants the essential tools and information to repair their finances if necessary and to build a solid financial future regardless of one’s current situation.

The class will meet on Monday evenings from 6 to 7:30 p.m. beginning on Monday, Sept. 24, and ending Oct. 29, with no class on Oct. 8. Complimentary childcare is provided. Topics will include building a budget and a strong credit history led by Cindy A. Shogry-Raimer, director of community cevelopment for Greylock Federal Credit Union; investing strategies by Jason LaBelle of Berkshire Retirement Strategies; and retirement, wills and estate planning by attorney Ben Smith.

The program is open to the public. The cost for all five sessions is $5 and the first 20 people to register will receive a free copy of "The Automatic Millionaire" by David Bach.  The remainder of the expenses of the program will be covered by the First Congregational Church’s Outreach Memorial Fund established in memory of David Monk to honor and continue his commitment of serving the local community and beyond. Space is limited; register by calling 413-655-2670.


College Prep Information Night

Adams Community Bank is hosting a college prep information night at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Williams Inn. Dr. Joshua Mendel, director of recruitment and outreach at MCLA, Ann Marie Mutz, school counselor at Pittsfield High School, and Lauren Mangiardi, student scholar from MCLA, will present an information session on the college search and application process.

Guidance will be provided to students and parents regarding the college search and application process. The panel will share tips on choosing where to apply, important timelines, essay writing, campus visits and the application process. This event is free but registration is requested by leaving a message for Kris Bona at 413-749-1165 or by email by Monday, Oct. 1.


Berkshire Bank Foundation funding

The Berkshire Bank Foundation has allocated $1,118,000 in philanthropic investments to 294 nonprofit organizations during its initial two rounds of 2018 grant funding. The funding will allow organizations to transform possibilities into a brighter reality for over three million individuals.
Berkshire Bank Foundation is committed to investing in specific education and economic development programs that enhance opportunities for individuals in communities served by Berkshire Bank. The grant funding supports a wide-range of career advancement, affordable housing and small business initiatives.  Among the recipients is YMCA Training, the recipient of a $10,000 grant for its Financial Services Training Program. This intensive, full-time professional skills and job-training program helps a diverse population of under-resourced adults prepare for employment in the banking and insurance industries. It replicates a real-life business environment, helping participants put their knowledge into practice so they are adequately prepared for careers in the financial services field. Berkshire’s partnership with YMCA Training is improving the economic prosperity of the participants, while also creating a pipeline of diverse, trained, entry-level talent for the financial services sector.
In addition to its education and economic development funding, the foundation once again offered a special Capacity Building grant opportunity designed to assist nonprofit organizations in improving their performance and impact. Through a competitive process, the foundation received more than 160 applications, with nine organizations selected to each receive a $5,000 grant, including: The Christian Center (Pittsfield); Revitalize Community Development Corporation (Springfield); Community Harvest Project (North Grafton); Irish International Immigrant Center (Boston); Billings Forge Community Works (Hartford, Conn.); Rebuilding Together Saratoga County (Ballston Spa, N.Y.); Abraham House (Utica, N.Y.); The Mentor Connector (Rutland, Vt.); and Rise – A Community Service Partnership (Hightstown, N.J.).


SVC honor

Southern Vermont College has been ranked the 25th best regional college in the north. The report was announced by the annual U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for 2019.

"This U.S. News ranking acknowledges the hard work of everyone in the SVC community in ensuring that our students have excellent opportunities for success, and reflects greatly improved graduation rates and a stronger academic focus over the past several years," said SVC President Dr. David Evans. "Our engaging academic and co-curricular offerings and intense focus on the potential of every individual student to thrive here make our wonderful college special."

The data U.S. News gathers on colleges – and the rankings of the schools that arise from these data – serve as an objective guide by which prospective students can compare the academic quality of schools. The 2019 edition of U.S. News Best Colleges, along with college visits and interviews, is a helpful means of finding the right fit.

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Biz Briefs: Shakespeare & Company Seeks Property Proposals for Lenox Campus

S&Co. Property Collaboration

Shakespeare & Company is inviting qualified entities, including real estate or other business and property development firms and nonprofits, to propose ideas to further develop the company's campus 33-acre property in Lenox. For more than four decades, Shakespeare & Company has been one of the premiere cultural attractions of Berkshire County, and a globally recognized landmark for theatrical performance, arts education, and professional training. This new project represents a unique opportunity to collaborate directly with the Company.  

Qualified entities are asked to provide an initial statement of interest to demonstrate how the campus, located within walking distance of the town of Lenox’s historic center, can be activated as a shared-use property that addresses the company's ongoing mission and priorities and maximizes the use of any available or undeveloped land, to enhance the ways in which Shakespeare & Company can further contribute to the region's growth. A full proposal will be requested later in the year. To read the full Request for Statements of Interest, click here.

All statements of interest will be reviewed and chosen by Shakespeare & Company’s Property Committee. Formed in 2017 as part of an organization-wide Strategic Planning Process, the Property Committee examines how the property can best address the needs of the company and the interests of the community. The committee includes trustees Scott Rubinow (chair), Sandy Bourgeois, George Camarda, Nancy Feldman, Anita Heller, Claudia Perles and Suzanne Werner, as well as members of the company's senior leadership.


Co-op Cash for Class Program

Wild Oats Market, a cooperatively owned natural foods grocery store, bakery and cafe in Williamstown, has kicked off its third annual Co-op Cash for Class program designed to raise money for local schools. To participate in the program, schools must register online. They can then download a customizable flyer to share with parents and students encouraging them to enroll.

It is even easier for parents to participate. Families simply register online and designate up to two schools. As soon as they sign up, they will immediately begin to earn points each time they shop at the co-op. There are no receipts to deal with and every purchase counts. The more families that participate and shop, the more money local schools will earn.

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