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Reuben and Amber Lara with a booth of their wares at Dalton Day.

Online Souvenir Store Combines Love of Berkshires and Dogs

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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DALTON, Mass. — Local business owners Reuben and Amber Lara combined their love for the Berkshires and dogs to create the lifestyle brand "Barkshires Dog Trading Co." 
This online shop celebrates dogs and the Berkshires using a vintage aesthetic. The brand sells  sustainable clothing and prints including t-shirts, hats, dog bandanas, and stickers. 
The couple moved to the Berkshires in 2015. Amber hails from Sunderland and Ruban is from Burbank, Calif.
Following a friend's visit to the Berkshires in November, the couple realized that there are not many souvenir stores and thus "Barkshires" was born.  
"We've had guests come and want to grab some things," Reuben said. " a world where so much divides people, it feels like pets and particularly dogs are something that everyone can rally around and everyone has really rallied around it from just all walks of life."
The designs combine aspects of the Berkshires, from skiing to breweries, and pair them with different breeds. They hope to expand to include items that feature cats for local cat enthusiasts. 
Ruben is a graphic designer, illustrator, and animator and because of his art the duo is plugged into the area's artist community.
After sharing their idea with some of their artist friends ranging in specialties from photography to web design the pieces came falling together. The duo have been working with local printers in Dalton and Pittsfield. 
A major part of their mission is to support hardworking individuals involved in shelters and rescues.  
While on the hunt for a dog of their own they discovered their rescue Millie at Pupstarz Rescue in New York City. 
They described the woman ran the nonprofit as responsible and said they were very impressed with their adoption process. 
To show their support for the organization and other shelters, they will be donating $1 from every T-shirt sale to either the Berkshire Humane Society or to Pupstarz Rescue
Although being a fully sustainable brand is difficult, they are ordering their T-shirt products from five different manufacturers that have ethical sourcing and have either full or in part sustainable aspects to the fabric, Amber said.
"We appreciate when something is done well … So I think that's one of the reasons our store is taking a little while, is we really want to make sure every experience is thought through and celebrates good design in Berkshire life," Amber said. 
They are also making sure that all their packaging, shippers, and boxes are recyclable and come from companies that focus on sustainable packaging. 
"All that does definitely add to the cost of our products but we felt like that was well worth it and that folks, I think, are becoming more aware of what we can do as our part to buy responsibly and so we wanted to just make that part of our brand," Amber said.
Prior to opening their online shop, they have been vending at local events and farmers markets to gauge community interest. 
While vending they have received a very warm welcome" from community members, Amber said.  
"People seem to respond really quickly to the brand and one thing we love is that we had awesome conversations because everybody drawn to our tent loves dogs,"
"... so it's just a fun way to really plug into the animal loving community and the Berkshires." 
An aspect of their products that they are looking forward to is the company's dog bandanas that feature "a really simple and elegant stitched pleat," which is not something they have seen done in dog bandanas before, Ruben said. 
"It just gives it a little bit of a tailored style. It's got, like three little pleats that are just stitched in and a nice little round shape that, I feel like, it's just easier to put on and off dogs without having to re-tie which I hate retieing. I'm super excited about our dog bandana products," Ruben said. 
To make the brand more inclusive and try to make all their customers happy, they have invested in including larger graphics for some of the big and tall sizes which a lot of companies do not do because of the added cost, Ruben said. 
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Pittsfield Draws Ballot Positions for November Election

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Candidates for at-large seats put the names in the tumbler. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With the general election just over a month away, ballot positions were drawn for the mayoral, School Committee, and multiple City Council races.

City Clerk Michele Benjamin congratulated all candidates for their nominations and placement on the ballot.

Peter Marchetti attended the drawing and pulled second position, placing John Krol in the first position on the ballot for mayor. 

Councilors-at-large candidates Kathleen Amuso, Craig Benoit, Daniel Miraglia, Alisa Costa and a representative of Lucas Marion drew their own names. Incumbent Peter White is in the first position followed by Benoit, Amuso, Miraglia, Costa, incumbent Earl Persip III and Marion.

The four candidates with the top votes will be selected as councilors at large on Nov. 7.

School Committee candidate William Garrity attended and drew second position behind Dominick Sacco in the first. Incumbent Daniel Elias is in the third position followed by incumbent Sara Hathaway, incumbent William Cameron, and Diana Belair.

The committee has six seats.

Wards 1, 4 and 5 — held by incumbents Kenneth Warren, James Bryan Conant and Patrick Kavey, respectively — are not being contested.

A representative of Ward 2 candidate Brittany Bandani drew first position, placing Alex Blumin in the second position.

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