Rustic Works moves into Jack's Country Squire, gives workshop space to local crafters

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GREAT BARRINGTON — A new business in the commercial district will soon provide local artisans a downtown place to craft and sell their work.

Rustic Works is moving into the former Jack's Country Squire building at 316 Main St. in downtown Great Barrington. The business is converting the basement, which used to be the store's shoe department, into a segmented workshop.

"It's a co-op for artisans in a great retail location," said Rustic Works co-owner Anthony Pedolzky.

Jack's closed in October after owner/operator Susan Pevzner died in August. The brothers are renting the space from Barrington Associates Realty Trust, which represents the Pevzner family.

Rustic Works will open on or around April 1.

Anthony and his brother Johann, grew up in Indiana and have a remodeling and furniture-making business in nearby Louisville, Ky. Anthony lives in Pittsfield full time, he said, after living in the area "off and on for 25 years." Johann is still in Indiana.

Rustic Works envisions welcoming woodmakers, steelmakers and glass crafters to their workshop space. Not only will the artisans have a space to work and access to professional tools, their products will go on the retail floor.

"There'll be a minimal monthly fee that they can work off on the floor or maybe 10 percent of sales," Pedolzky said.

Rustic Works will primarily sell the brothers' furniture, which is made from reclaimed materials from their remodels and their office space in Louisville's old Seagram's building. Anthony explained that the material in the redeveloped distillery has given the brothers a lot to work with.

"In the warehouse we make bourbon barrel tables, use the barrel rings as light fixtures," Pedolzky said. "We don't let anything go to waste."

Rustic Works' aesthetic was taking shape as Pedolzky applied finish to the retail counter on a recent afternoon. Found doors from the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Westfield adorn the right wall by the front door. The doors are followed by shutters that let light in from the stairwell to the basement.

The rest of the right wall is finished with planks of old found wood from the factory in Kentucky. Reclaimed materials are just too expensive out here, Pedolzky said.

"For found wood like this," Pedolzky said, pointing to the poplar top on the retail counter, "you'd be paying $7 or $8 and up per board foot in the Berkshires. In Indiana and Kentucky, it starts at 50 cents."

On the back wall, an old door from a fence panel sits under an awning. On either side, corrugated tin reaches to the corners. The materials came from a garage on a property the brothers own back home in Indiana.

Local artisans will have one of five or six studios in the downstairs of the shop. The spaces will be set against the south wall. To the back of the basement, Rustic Works will have an open workshop with extensive tools that the artisans may use.

"They can lease as long as they don't compete with us," Pedolzky said.

The brothers didn't begin with so much space and resources — that's the reason for giving the opportunity to up and coming crafters and artists in the Southern Berkshire community.

"We didn't start out with 40,00 square feet," Pedolzky said.

Reach staff writer Eoin Higgins at 413-496-6236 or @BE_EoinHiggins.

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