The staples of Main Street, side businesses and the snow: a look at Small Business Saturday in Pittsfield | Central Berkshires
The wind sent heaps of fresh snow in tiny gusts under the Saturday sunshine of downtown Pittsfield, past glowing balloons, decorated storefronts and sidewalk singers. The passer-by rushed with full bags into the cold air, rushing to stores and cafes to eat and do some local shopping for small businesses on Saturday.
The morning after the area’s first snowfall, The Eagle stopped by Main Street to hear from the people who were the lifeblood of the town’s small businesses.
The entrepreneur mom Jordan Boska runs his business from his little girl’s bedroom. This means that when the baby is napping, she has to discreetly slide the sewing machine into the living room.
“It’s really tricky,” she said with a laugh, from her table at the crowded Holiday Market at Hotel on North. “But I love to do it.”
She started Jordan’s Hobby Mart when she became a stay-at-home mom and found herself sewing clothes for her children. Now she has three children, all under the age of four, and three sewing machines.
âSewing has been my hobby since I was little,â she said. âMy grandmother taught me how. And people kept asking me things, so I thought, I’ll create an Etsy.
The Etsy became a website, then a table in various lounges. The sale of masks propelled the company, and its infinity scarf with a hidden pocket was featured on Buzzfeed. Most of its products, however, are children’s clothing: little sweaters with ghosts and mushrooms, soft pink jumpsuits, cheerful striped pants.
âI’ve always wanted to own my own business,â she said. âMy mother owned her own business. My father. My brother. My grandmother. I didn’t think it would take off, but the masks, those really helped me fund other things. I really want to grow more and do more things. But I have three kids at home, so it’s a bit difficult.
These kids, of course, help out as models for a new model and get their first pick on clothes. Clothes, in turn, also offer something to Boska.
âIt gives me a piece, as a stay at home mom, a piece of myself to have. “
The long-time sellerA 5km run blocked traffic outside Steven Valenti’s Clothing, but the doors opened at 10 a.m. to a flood of shoppers.
âSmall businesses tend to do a lot of service,â he said. âWe are waiting for people one by one. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been here for almost 40 years, because it’s a store where we take pride in our product, and we take great pride in the knowledge we have. We are able to transfer that to every customer that comes in through the door. “
For Valenti, the pandemic has been a greater business threat than anything he has faced, including new mall openings. But his savings kept him afloat for the first year of the emergency. Last summer, after the gunfire went off, her older clients began to come back in force.
âWe had problems getting some things, like white shirts,â he said. âSuddenly they became very difficult to obtain. Everyone needs a white shirt to go to something, like a wedding, and they have come in droves.
A supplier stole the shirts at great cost, he said. Now the store is bustling again, as customers get ready for the holidays.
âWe have a lot of loyal customers who live in Berkshire County and elsewhere,â he said. âThank goodness for them, they really helped us. “
The business sideLast winter pandemic, Christa Sciola from Pittsfield brought home a new puppy (to her mother’s surprise) but found the new puppy refused to eat Milk-Bone treats. The family had bananas, peanut butter, and leftover oats on hand, so they mixed them up and accidentally started a business: BerkshireSci Biscuit Co.
It was one of more than a dozen businesses on display at the Hotel on North on Saturday.
âI just found the recipe on my own,â she said. âI was going to start with Kitchen Aid, but I’m faster than Kitchen Aid, so I just dragged them around all day. I climb onto the granite counter, knead the dough, and run the oven for about eight hours.
She kept her full-time job at a restaurant, but started selling online in her spare time, receiving rave reviews, especially from her own satisfied client, her golden doodle Julia.
âI have to hide the bags,â she said. “People tell me that they also have to hide the bags from their dogs because the dogs will start to circle, jumping on the counter.”
The artistAs Caroline Kelley tidied up her studio, a bright light poured onto her table, complemented by a tiny plastic sheet offering her Venmo information. In the hallway, she had placed $ 10 prints for anyone exploring the open doors of NUarts Studios & Gallery.
âNot everyone always thinks of art as a gift, you know, for Christmas,â she said. “But we are releasing smaller works, it’s very affordable.”
Larger abstract paintings lined the walls of Kelley’s studio. An incomplete set of nine semi-abstract paintings – eight finished, one blank – hanging on the wall opposite the door.
âI call the series ‘Transport Paints’,â she said, pointing to planes and trains. âI did them during the pandemic. It’s a bit like fantasies of flying away, or of escaping in a boat or a train.
Unlike some building artists, Kelley has a full-time job outside of the studio, but has been an artist her entire life and had a space in the building for several years. During the pandemic, she took refuge in her small studio and found the healing process in the midst of the emergency.
âThe world has become calmer,â she said. “I usually take the winters and sort of lock myself in my studio, and the pandemic was like a longer version of that.”
After she finished showing off her work at the open house, she said, she planned to hit the streets and do her own vacation shopping locally.