Otis Poultry Farm for sale; owner hopes its tradition will continue
OTIS -- For sale: A prime, 25-acre property along Route 8 in North Otis with six buildings, lakefront access, a full liquor license, a 48-seat restaurant, and an ongoing retail and wholesale business -- but not just any business.
It's now being marketed as the Otis Country Store and remains open daily with a full line of merchandise from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
But it's far better known as the 109-year-old Otis Poultry Farm, owned by multiple generations of the same family.
Owner Andy Pyenson, the third generation to run the family business with weekend help from his daughter, Dawn, a BCC student, and a granddaughter, is hoping to pass the unique landmark attraction on to someone who will continue to operate it as a country market, general store and café.
It's the kind of place where you can get almost anything you need or want in addition to, as one of the quirky signs puts it, "12 eggs in every dozen."
Asked if he's selling in order to retire, Andy Pyenson said "it's getting to be that time."
"It's getting to the point where we need to cut some of our expenses. We're hoping somebody comes in here who's younger, keeps the place going somewhat as is. It's a good business and people can survive as long as they want to work."
Now being offered at $1.8 million, down from the original asking price of nearly $2.5 million, the property, which includes multiple parcels of land, has attracted only casual interest so far, said Pyenson, 62, who started working there when he was 5 years old, grading eggs on a weighing machine and then packing them.
"I think I got a quarter a week," he recalled earning.
He became sole owner in 2010 after his older brother, Steven, retired. The brothers had taken over the business from their father in 1997.
"Because of the market and finances, we came down in price," Pyenson explained. "It's good land if someone could put up a couple of spec houses, but they have the business right here to keep going and also do whatever else they wanted to with the land."
According to Realtor Stephanie McNair, the goal is to sell the property in its entirety. She is the co-founder of the Otis-based Harvest Moon Realty, which holds the exclusive listing.
The business is doing "fairly well," she said. "Wholesale is in the black. It's the shining star. There's incredible value to the land."
She suggested that a new owner would find "a lot of potential to do different things, to maintain the country shop, add features like gas pumps and keep the restaurant open year-round."
McNair cited inquiries from building developers, a sports company that sells outdoor clothing, and a solar-farm company.
Pyenson suggested that the spot would be ideal for a young or middle-aged couple to run as a business, or it could be purchased as an investment with the business leased to a proprietor.
In 1952, his father, Maxwell Pyenson, who died Dec. 27, 2010, at the age of 93, had bought the business along with his wife, Audrey, from his parents, David and Rebecca Pyenson, Jewish immigrants from Minsk, Russia, who established the poultry farm in 1904.
Perhaps best known for its chicken and turkey pot pies -- the heart of the wholesale business with 45,000 distributed annually in the Berkshires and nearby counties -- the 12,000-square-foot store, akin to an old-time trading post, is a purveyor of groceries, gifts, knick-knacks, breads and pies, local cheese and maple products, fudge, hand-packed candy, eggs, milk, poultry, produce, wine and spirits, classic wooden toys, moccasins, and even furniture.
"You have to get the people in the door, like a supermarket," Pyenson said. "Once they get in the door, you have to have everything they're going to want so they don't go anyplace else. But the economy is slow, so you can't afford to overstock."
The restaurant is currently operated seasonally. The store could be expanded to its second floor with an elevator already installed.
Although Pyenson said he prefers to pass the business on as a going concern, he's open to all comers. His wife, Lynn, also owns and operates the Farmington River Diner & Deli, a couple of miles south in the center of Otis, a business the couple intends to retain.
To a passerby, little has changed over the years at the vintage landmark, which is still adorned with humorous signs -- "Otis Chickens Retirement Plan: Roasters, Fricassee, a la King, BBQ" and "Limited Edition Eggs. Only Laid Once" -- and wooden cut-outs of grinning cartoon-like chickens and now-empty hen houses advertising farm-fresh eggs with a sign "chicken Hilton, no vacancy."
In 2006 following a long-term drop in demand, the 25,000 or so chickens, including the 6,000 laying hens that had produced 5,000 eggs a day, were "retired," as one sign notes, and the store is now supplied by a poultry farm in New York state.
Having acquired the listing last summer, McNair said she's actively marketing it. "It's one of those iconic places," she observed.
To contact Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto.
Otis Poultry Farm at a glance ...
What: Otis Poultry Farm, founded in 1904 by the Pyenson family, now for sale as the Otis Country Store on 25 acres of land.
Where: 1570 N. Main Road, Otis
When: The general store is open daily, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information, (413) 269-4438.
On the market: Asking price of $1.8 million for the wholesale and retail business, 25 acres of land with six buildings, 48-seat restaurant, full liquor license, 2,000 feet of Route 8 frontage, and lake access. Zoned commercial and residential.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.