Longevity recognized: At 90, Marshall Raser honored by merchant's association
PITTSFIELD — Marshall Raser is as old as the business that he runs which wouldn't be unusual except they both turned 90 last year.
The owner of Pittsfield-based Carr Hardware, which he has personally owned since 1962, Raser has experienced the same ups and downs that downtown Pittsfield has over the last half century.
In recognition of his contributions, determination and perseverance, Raser on Thursday received the 2019 Robert K. Quattrochi Downtown Person of the Year from Downtown Pittsfield Inc. at the merchants association's annual meeting at the Beacon Cinema.
"You have outlasted and outmaneuvered everything," said award presenter Noel Henebury, referring to the regional hardware chain's continued ability to survive and thrive in an industry that is increasingly dominated by big box chain stores. Carr, which has six outlets — four in the Berkshires and two in Connecticut — is planning to open a seventh store in Lenox later this year.
Raser, who turns 91 Aug. 18, said he was surprised to receive the award, and honored because it is named after the late Quattrochi, a long time acquaintance.
"Bob was a very close friend of mine." Raser said of Quatrocchi, a community advocate and long time owner of the former Pete's Motors of Pittsfield, who died at age 87 in 2015. DPI named its annual Person of the Year Award after Quatrocchi following his death.
"I served on this board for years and years and years in fact, and it's great to see what's happening now," Raser said after receiving the award. "Downtown has really got energy again and it gives me energy that way."
An indication of that renewed energy was reflected in the number of attendees, who filled every one of the 68 seats in the theater where the meeting was held. Several people had to stand against a wall.
"This is what happens when you take out a third of the seats and have an important event," joked DPI President Jesse Cook-Dubin, referring to when the Beacon replaced its original stadium seating with recliners two years ago, which significantly lowered the complex's seating capacity.
DPI also gave out two other awards at Thursday's meeting: Mary McGinnis, the founder of Pittsfield's First Friday's Artwalk, received the 2019 President's Award. Berkshire Pride Festival received the 2019 Community Award.
Pittsfield Mayor Linda M. Tyer said the city experienced $52 million in new growth last year, which resulted in $2 million in new tax revenue.
"We haven't seen that kind of growth since 2009," she said.
Since July, the city's Department of Community Development has received 54 inquiries about starting businesses in Pittsfield, and 37 percent of those requests have been from minorities, Tyer said. Downtown businesses have created 113 new jobs, she added.
DPI also elected officers, board members, corporators and directors to both one and three year terms.
Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at email@example.com or 413-496-6224.
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