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Joe Prince opened an antiques and gift business and was almost immediately shutdown by the pandemic. But he didn't let that stop him: He moved his business to Lanesborough and went bigger.
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Berkshire Mantiques occupies 7,000 square feet in the former Vacation Village plaza.
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Prince is hoping to collaborate with other tenants to create a Lanesborough destination.

Berkshire Mantiques Owner Aims to Create Lanesborough 'Destination'

By Joe DurwiniBerkshires Staff
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Prince will be hosting live performances throughout the summer.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — After surviving cancer and then a layoff, Joe Prince decided to follow his own star and start a business. He could not have predicted a worldwide pandemic would strike almost immediately after he did so.
 
"We were in there just a couple of weeks before COVID came along and shut us down," Prince told iBerkshires of his first, short-lived shop opened in Cheshire in early 2020.
 
After struggling to reopen and make it work at his first location for a few months, he switched gears and went bigger, one town over.
 
Restructuring from his 1,300 square-foot Cheshire store, Prince moved his Berkshire Mantiques to a 7,000 square-foot space along Lanesborough's Route 7 corridor. What's more, he leased the entire five-building, 2.5 acre property in which it's situated, and since November has quickly gone about filling it with more businesses and special events to create an entertainment venue component.
 
"I want this to be more than an antiques shop ... I want it to be an experience," said Prince, who garnered approval for an entertainment license that will enable him to host live music by local acts on weekends throughout the summer.
 
Getting his feet wet with larger events, Prince is hosting a car show Saturday (May 8) at the retail center, which goes by "The Plaza at Vacation Village." This event is capped at 150 people in accordance with state mandates, but events held after May 10 will go up to 250.
 
"Right now I'm just supporting the local musicians, and I'm trying to give them a place to play," said Prince, who said he has worked with his staff to take every COVID-19 precaution (upon entering, all customers' temperatures are checked with a non-touch wrist thermometer), "It's all just a thing that I can do as a business owner to promote community, promote growth, with the facility that I have."
 
Prince is also keen to partner with others in the community on additional ventures utilizing the former Vacation Village plaza, which has been vacant for a decade. Adjacent to Berkshire Mantiques is Greylock Grounds Coffee, which includes a newly added drive-through that Prince calls "the only non-Dunkin' coffee drive-through along the Route 7 corridor from here to Vermont."
 
Partnering with Six Depot Coffee, they are also manufacturing Keurig-style coffee pods in a small adjacent building. Prince says the compostable, biodegradable pods being produced there are the only ones on the market featuring coffee roasted in the Berkshires.
 
In another building in the plaza, a new general store business has announced intentions to occupy most of the remaining space, joining tenant Root 7 Salon, which located there several months ago.
 
The newly emerged Lanesborough entrepreneur isn't bashful about the impact he hopes to make on the town.
 
"I have a creative way to bring a little bit of energy and a little bit of magic back to Lanesborough," says Prince. "I'm trying to make this a destination ... this is where I want to spend the rest of my life."

Tags: new business,   antiques,   

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BCC Offers Summer Classes

PITTSFIELD, Mass — Berkshire Community College (BCC) encourages prospective students to enroll for summer 2024 classes in advance of the fall semester, which begins on Tuesday, September 3, 2024.
 
By completing one or more pre-requisite classes over the summer, students can focus on their desired area of study on the fall — or simply experiment with a course or two that piques their interest.
 
Students ages 25 and older may qualify for free tuition through the Commonwealth's MassReconnect program, providing they are Massachusetts residents who have not previously earned a college degree and who enroll in at least six credits per semester.
 
A variety of learning options are offered at BCC, including in-person, online and hybrid courses. Prospective students may register any time online, or by walking in without an appointment to the One Stop Center. There, applications are processed for instant acceptance to the College. Financial aid assistance is also available.
 
To learn more about applying to BCC, including viewing an admission checklist, browsing a course catalogue, filing a financial aid form or scheduling a tour in person or online, visit www.berkshirecc.edu/fall. Advisors are on hand to answer questions; call (413) 499-4660 or email onestop@berkshirecc.edu.
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