Clark opens Extra! news shop on Spring Street


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Douglas Foster likes to buy the New York Times every morning on Spring Street in Williamstown.

"It's easy to come down to Spring Street, see old friends, stop and talk," he said.

Foster used to buy his newspaper at the privately run Williams Newsroom, which closed this May after an 18-month lease dispute with Williams College. The 15-year Williamstown resident turned to buying his newspaper at Cumberland Farms or Rite Aid, but said it just wasn't the same experience.

Then, Foster ran into a friend at Stop & Shop, who told him about a new place to buy newspapers: Extra!

The pop-up store is run by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and held an unofficial opening on Monday. It opens officially today.

"We wanted to fill the void," said Rochelle Jones, retail director at the Clark.

The pop-up store, so called because it will be open only through October, offers local newspapers like The Berkshire Eagle and North Adams Transcript, as well as regional and international newspapers. It also sells art magazines, books on art, and gifts -- an extension of the Clark gift shop, only more geared toward reading.

"I love the idea of bringing the Clark to Spring Street," Jones said.

Jones and her team rushed to open the store in the span of two weeks. With the help of contractor Jake Lariviere, they transformed the space from dirty and abandoned to cozy and inviting in 12 days, working 12 hours a day.

Director Michael Conforti asked Jones to lead the project and she got to work. "I like a challenge," Jones said.

The 408-square-foot space includes a reading room with black leather couches and hanging lamps.

"Hopefully, people will sit down and read," said Maki Matsui, an employee at Extra!

"It's great to have access to newspapers," said Tom Loughman, associate director at the Clark. "I like that in a small town."

But it can be difficult logistically to have immediate access to newspapers such as Le Monde and Der Spiegel. Extra! buys these international publications from an American supplier, and, while they are promised in the store, they will not always be that day's edition.

"We feel the realities of our geography," Loughman said.

On Monday, all inside preparations were finished, and all they had left was to lay sod in front of the store. It was drizzling outside, and team members were barefoot in the store to avoid tracking mud into the clean new space.

"We're bringing new life to Spring Street," said Victoria Saltzman, director of communications at the Clark.

"It's not a replacemement of the [Williams] Newsroom," Saltzman added. "We've been thinking about a presence on Spring Street for a while."

The Clark is renting the 1840 building from Crimson Peak LLC, a major player in town affairs and whose president and CEO is Mark Paresky.

"Mark has been very excited about the Clark joining the Spring Street community," Loughner said.

The store, located at 73 Spring St., is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Residents are excited about the store's opening.

"I always think it's great to have reasons for people to come to Spring Street," said Anne Singleton, Williamston Community Chest's executive director.

Williams College art professor Holly Edwards concurred.

"This is going to be great," she said.


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