WEST STOCKBRIDGE -- A number of new downtown businesses along Main Street have longtime local business owner Joe Roy recalling the Gordon Rose days.
West Stockbridge residents will recall decades ago when Rose, a developer, bought what was a vacant downtown West Stockbridge en masse with the intent of revitalizing the area.
"In the last year, there are former dark empty businesses being bought up and refurbished, and businesses are opening up. This old man is excited," said Roy, 65, the owner of The Floor Shop. "It's like the Gordon Rose days, it's coming back to life, which is good."
There are good vibes these days in quaint and eclectic downtown West Stockbridge. Two new specialty coffeehouses opened in downtown last week and these are just the latest in a tide of new business openings and land purchases. Other new welcomes in the last year include an antique store and oriental rug shop.
Roy will be losing his upstairs tenant Eric Wilska, owner of bookstore Found in the Loft. Wilska recently purchased the historic red Shaker Mill Barn and adjacent Depot Building. Wilska said he plans to open a "classy" bookstore that will be double the size of his current place in West Stockbridge by October.
Nonetheless, Roy is still chipper. He speculated a rebounding economy could be driving business. The downtown was hit hard following the late 2008 recession, he said.
"There's definitely a buzz and it's not just me excited," Roy said. "They are feeling the upsurge and what's coming for the summer. All indications is it's going to be a great year."
These businesses join a variety of shops that are already in the area. There already are Mediterranean, Vietnamese, and French restaurants; the century-old vanilla extract production shop, Charles H. Baldwin & Sons; the one-of-a-kind Hotchkiss Mobile Studio; and other mainstay businesses like the A.W. Baldwin True Value Hardware store.
More than a year ago, Lisa and Flavio Lichtenthal bought downtown property at 6 Depot St. The couple last week opened their specialty coffee house, No. Six Depot Roastery and Cafe. They had no problem filling the two-story building with entrepreneurs who run a yoga studio, make documentary films, and run a leather printing press, among some of the new arrivals.
Lisa remarked with no shortage of local pride, "It's like a real town where things are made. It's not just there for the tourists."
Nearby, another specialty coffee house, Shaker Dam Coffeehouse & Stanmeyer Gallery, opened with the parcel purchased by Anastasia and John Stanmeyer.
In the last year, Donald McGrory and his wife have opened two stores in downtown. McGrory relocated from Great Barrington, citing high rent prices and the possible hit on his business when downtown Main Street is renovated.
McGrory said his profits have held steady.
"I've lived in West Stockbridge for a long time and it really ebbs and flows, but everyone seems to be optimistic these days," McGrory said.
Read more: A tale of two coffee shops