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Sales associates Veronica O'Brien, left, and Mary Farrell, and community outreach coordinator Rhonda Cyr at the Lenox Catwalk Boutique's new location at 51 Church St.

Berkshire Humane Society's Catwalk Boutique Reopens in Lenox

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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LENOX, Mass. — The Catwalk Boutique in Lenox opened on Nov. 17 in its newest location at 51 Church St. It's the third time this Berkshire Humane Society benefit store has opened since 2018.
 
The new space is on the main street so it has plenty of light unlike the previous location, 53 Church St., behind the new space, sales associate Mary Farrell said. 
 
The original Catwalk Boutique, located at 325 Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington, continues to operate, as it has since 2014 near the society's cat-exclusive shelter Purradise. 
 
The boutique raises funds for the Humane Society by selling gently used, affordable women's clothing that has been donated by community members. 
 
"The community's been wonderful, our landlords have really been accommodating. The local community has been great in donating and helping out where they can," community outreach coordinator Rhonda Cyr said.
 
"The fact that they know that it benefits the animals at the shelter, they really want to step forward, step up, and lend a hand."
 
Shoppers can peruse from a collection that includes designer and upscale labels, current styles, and contemporary fashions. 
 
All proceeds support Berkshire Humane Society's programming to provide animals of all kinds a chance to find their forever home. 
 
"We depend on our Catwalk Boutique stores to help us raise money for our homeless animal shelters and community programs to keep animals in their loving homes in and around the Berkshires," Executive Director John Perreault said in a press release. 
 
"We miss our Lenox patrons so are excited to be back in the community. A trip to Catwalk Boutique is the ultimate guilt-free shopping experience. You can get a great look at a bargain price while helping companion animals." 
 
The Humane Society does not just help local animals but also transports them from the South to give them an opportunity for a second chance, Farrell said.
 
Sometimes when people enter the boutique they do not know the purpose but once told it always puts a smile on their face, she said. 
 
The community missed shopping at the local boutique and were excited to see its return, lead sales associate Veronica O'Brien said. 
 
"I think it is important for the animals and animal rescue. I'm a therapist and animals play such a crucial part in the lives of folks for mental wellness, and just overall health and connection," Catwalk Boutique regular Christina Marks said. 
 
"So providing a way to connect people with pets in an affordable way and in a loving way is wonderful. Also I love thrifting and knowing that it's going to the Humane Society.
 
The boutique not only fills the needs of animals but also improves accessibility to clothing stores, which the Berkshires is lacking. 
 
"We have a really low inventory of clothing stores, especially women's clothing stores in the Berkshires so I think that's why it's a popular choice for a lot of people, especially for evening wear and higher-end apparel, people with a certain type of style, and taste that really suits their needs, and it's at an affordable price," Cyr said.
 
Lenox is a beautiful place filled with really high end stores and the boutique adds to that environment at an affordable price, Farrell added. 
 
Not only are shoppers able to donate to a great cause, they are able to be environmentally friendly since everything is recycled.  
 
"Everything that we sell, it's for such a great purpose. And I think that that's number one, why everyone loves to come by here. Everything's recycled so it's a great way to make a purchase, whether it's for yourself or a gift," O'Brien said.  
 
Berkshire Humane Society's financial specialist Sherry Betit agreed with this sentiment adding that it is "guilt-free" shopping. 
 
"I mean, it truly is guilt-free shopping, because every penny you spend goes back towards helping the animals at Berkshire Humane Society, and the programs that support those animals and their families. So it's a win-win for everybody," she said.
 
Catwalk Boutique was opened by a group of Berkshire Humane Society's Purradise volunteers in 2013. 
 
They had done a couple of pop-up boutique type things in the past and thought a boutique would be a great way to provide additional income to support the animals at the shelter. 
 
"So basically they got together, pooled their time, talent and resources, and helped kick off our first [Great Barrington] store, which was only about 700 square feet," Betit said. 
 
"Over the years that blossomed and we thought it would be great if we could have another store that was in a different location. And we've been going ever since. It's just been a really great thing for the shelter and animals." 
 
The Great Barrington store moved to a larger location in 2020 and is still running strong. 
 
Each store is operated by paid employees and volunteers. There are eight volunteers at the Great Barrington location and four at the Lenox location, and they are always looking for more.
 
"It is always great when you can find a great volunteer because there are never enough hours in a day for staff to do what needs to be done, so it definitely helps," Betit said. 
 
The staff and volunteers try to create a welcoming atmosphere and demonstrate their passion for the cause. 
 
"The devotion of the folks that work here is very delightful. They just seem to really believe in what they do and enjoy each other's company and celebrate the occasional dog that comes up," Marks said.  
 
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and make a difference, Cyr said. 
 
"I think they should volunteer because they have a desire to help out in the community. And even though this isn't directly working with animals, this is a big fundraiser for us," she said  "And the way we can support our animals is through this shop. And without volunteers. We really can't do all the work that we need to do"
 
Become a volunteer here
 
Both stores will have Black Friday weekend sales, 20 percent off most items in the Lenox store and 40 percent off most items in the Great Barrington store. 
 
For more information, call 413-447-7878, Ext. 155 for the Lenox store and Ext. 151 for the Great Barrington store. 

Tags: Berkshire Humane Society,   reopening,   

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Pittsfield Police 'Back on Track' for Body Camera Pilot

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Following a union delay and a grant from the state, the Pittsfield Police Department is prepared to initiate a body camera pilot in the next week or so.

"I can say that all of the unanticipated issues that led to the delay at the end of October have been resolved and we're back on track," Chief Michael Wynn reported to the City Council on Tuesday.

This has been long anticipated, as body cameras have been requested by the council and community members since the police killing of Miguel Estrella in March.

Wynn walked the councilors through the events of the last month.

On Oct. 13, the initial pilot participants were supposed to be selected along with the temporary policy being put out and training scheduled. On the same day, he was notified of concerns from one of the police unions but did not cancel because no members of that union were selected to participate.

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