Carr Hardware to open new store at Lenox retail complex

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LENOX — Carr Hardware, a Berkshire-based retailer with deep roots in the community, is the first business to plant its flag on the expansion and renovation of a revitalized Center at Lenox retail complex.

The company plans to open its seventh store later this year as part of the $4 million expansion of the shopping center, home to a large Price Chopper, Marshalls, CVS Pharmacy, Verizon Wireless and a Berkshire Bank branch.

The new location represents a $1 million investment, including inventory, by Carr Hardware, said Bart Raser, president and co-owner.

"We think the Center at Lenox is an especially attractive shopping destination with lots of customers, traffic and high visibility," Raser told The Eagle on Thursday. "We've been anxious to be part of the Lenox community for many years."

WS Development, based in Chestnut Hill, plans to begin construction on the 36-acre site next month, with a completion date projected for sometime in the fall.

Carr will open a nearly 11,000-square-foot store in about one-third of the former Price Chopper, which closed in 2011 to make way for a larger store in the same plaza. It also will have an outdoor garden center.

"This location will be more convenient for our Lenox customers, and some of our major commercial and institutional customers," Raser said. He cited homeowners, contractors, resorts and local businesses.

"Our goal is to be open for Christmas shopping," he said.

Raser said he's especially pleased to see the old Price Chopper building springing back to life after seven years as a deteriorating eyesore.

"We've been talking with WS Development for several years," he noted.

"They are very impressive to work with," he said of the developers. "They're very professional, deeply experienced and highly transparent. They want to do a first-class job, and it's a pleasure to deal with them."

Bryan Furze, vice president of leasing at WS Development, expressed similar sentiments about the local retailer.

"Carr Hardware brings a great amenity and service offering to Lenox as a strong local operator that is well-respected in the community," he said in a statement.

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The Lenox Zoning Board unanimously approved special permits and site plans for WS Development on April 3. The company has not yet identified the second tenant that signed a lease for space in the redeveloped former Price Chopper, where a total of up to seven sites from 2,000 to 11,000 square feet will be available. An eighth business could go into the former Radio Shack location adjoining Marshalls.

The expansion of the complex also includes up to 5,000 square feet of retail space in a southward extension of the existing building housing Verizon, accommodating one large or two smaller tenants, possibly a new restaurant.

If retail interest emerges, the expansion could lead to construction of two new buildings — with 36,699 square feet and 18,975 square feet — on the vacant lot just north of Marshalls.

Carr Hardware was launched by Sam Carr in 1928 as a one-man operation in downtown Pittsfield. It evolved into a regional chain after Bart's father, Marshall Raser, purchased it in 1962. The elder Raser, now 90, remains an active co-owner in the business. In addition to the flagship store in Pittsfield, Carr Hardware has locations in North Adams, Lee and Great Barrington, as well as in Avon and Enfield, Conn. But Raser stressed that "we're still pretty small in terms of retail, and we love what we do. The new store strengthens our presence in the Berkshires and complements our nearby stores."

Carr's Lenox store will have longer hours than the Pittsfield location on North Street. Hours for the new store are expected to be 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Raser described the upcoming Lenox site as "very unique because we're joining with a new partner to build a great showcase location, especially designed for the Lenox community. It will be a real shopping experience, quite a cool hybrid store with an appeal to female customers" who patronize the existing shopping center off Route 7/20 [Pittsfield Road].

Raser, who said he could not yet identify the new partner, said the store will emphasize colors and aesthetics, as well as special vendors.

Special services to be offered include digital key duplication, screen and glass repair, and propane. Free local delivery and Carr's traditional "we serve what we sell" are planned.

Carr's inventory includes more than 40,000 items, including an extensive retail hardware selection, as well as more than 350 equipment, party and amusement rental options. Its home and garden necessities include paint, outdoor power equipment, lawn and garden products, plumbing and electrical supplies, hardware and housewares.

Carr Hardware, which emphasizes personalized customer service combined with technological resources, was named the National Independent Small Business of The Year for 2017 and has been voted as "Best in the Berkshires" for 23 consecutive years by Berkshire Eagle readers.

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

WS Development has more than 20 million square feet of existing space with 5 million more under development. The company describes itself as one of the largest, privately owned development firms in the U.S.

Operating since 1990, WS develops, owns, operates and leases over 90 properties, including urban buildings, lifestyle centers, power centers, community centers and mixed-use developments, and aims to be "a contributing member of each community it serves."

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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