Carr Hardware set to expand into Connecticut, finish $500K renovation in Great Barrington

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PITTSFIELD — A well-known Berkshire hardware store chain is expanding into Connecticut while putting the finishing touches on the $500,000 renovation of its current store in Great Barrington.

Carr Hardware is in the process of opening two stores in Connecticut, one in partnership with another hardware store company that is located in the Springfield area.

The renovation of Carr's store on Main Street in Great Barrington began nine months ago, said company owner Bart Raser. A grand reopening of that store is scheduled to take place the weekend of May 14-15, he said.

The Great Barrington store contains new fixtures, lighting, floors, new checkout counters, a new HVAC system, a new facade and additional parking.

The new Connecticut stores, one in Enfield and the other in Avon, will give Carr a brick-and-mortar presence in the greater Springfield and Hartford, Conn., areas, Raser said. Enfield is located near Springfield, while Avon is a suburb of Hartford.

"I think there's a lot of growth in those areas, Avon in particular," Raser said. "The economies are strong in both cases, and in Enfield there's a significant population and no independent hardware stores serving the market.

"So it's an opportunity," he said. "We want to continue to grow, we need to continue to grow and this is a great opportunity to do it."

Carr's retail operations have been located solely in the Berkshires since the chain closed its store in Watervliet, N.Y., some five years ago, Raser said.

"I think this is a good formula for other markets," he said, referring to the expansion into Connecticut. "If we see an opportunity we're going to look at it."

The new stores also will allow Carr to expand its successful maintenance, repair and operations business into the Pioneer Valley and Northern Connecticut. Carr's MRO business is a strictly commercial operation, Raser said.

Carr also has an industrial supply contract with the state of Massachusetts that allows the Berkshire-based firm to supply items like power equipment and electrical and plumbing supplies to state-run facilities like MassDOT garages, jails and campgrounds.

Carr's MRO and industrial supply contracts "do a lot of business for us," Raser said.

The Enfield store is a partnership between Carr and Brightwood Hardware of Longmeadow. That store, known as Carr Hardware at Brightwood Center, will open Aug. 1 on Route 5 in Enfield, a mile from the Massachusetts state line.

Brightwood will begin liquidating its inventory in Longmeadow on Friday. But Carr and Brightwood will operate jointly at that location through July.

The Avon store, which Carr will operate separately, is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend, Raser said.

Both Carr and Brightwood are members of the True Value Hardware Co-op. Unlike Carr, which has four Berkshire County locations, Brightwood's only store is in Longmeadow.

"I approached them a number of years ago about doing something," Raser said, referring to the partnership with Brightwood. "I've been working on it for five years, meeting with them regularly waiting for the right time.

"The right time finally became available nine months ago and now we've been solidifying the relationship."

In a statement, Brightwood Manager Ken Cohn said the move to Enfield represents a "growth opportunity" for his company.

Carr and Brightwood also have several similarities, Raser said. Raser and Cohn, who are around the same age, are second generation members of the families that have run their family-owned businesses for many years.

"I think they are a long-standing family business in the community with values and a business style very similar to Carr's," Raser said.

"They understand the value of being local," he added. "They have a great reputation. It's important for us to find a partner like that."

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.


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