Berkshire singer/songwriter Bernice Lewis has performed nationwide since she first came to the Kerrville Folk Festival four decades ago. This year, in Covid-19, she and her daughter Mariah have returned to festival — online.Read article
Coronavirus has closed physical shops in the Berkshires… but many of them are adapting to a virtual world. You might be surprised what you can order online and have shipped to your front steps.
You can find Beatles albums and Star Wars and an internationally beloved kora musician recording in the Netherlands in a converted chicken coop. (This one I really found. I gave it to my brother-in-law, and he loved the music and looked up the story behind the album. It must have been a unique sound studio.)
You can find mysteries and science fiction telling love stories from new worlds. Create a t-shirt with any slogan you want. Get a surprise package of vintage films and games or whimsical local art …
All of these places have web stores and will ship to you at home, unless (in a few rare places) we note otherwise.
Art and craft
Does it feel good to keep your hands busy while you’re re-watching five seasons of Leverage? Would some standup comedy on your dish towel make you laugh while you wash up? Local makers and designers are putting together artwork, craft supplies and color. (You can find more about art museums online on the virtual art page.)
Blue Q — The Berkshire maker of oven mitts with attitude, socks with sass, badass bags and wigged-out widgets … The Blue Q team adds humor to everyday things and comes up with new designs regularly. And they’ll ship.
Basket making — Joann Kelly Catsos, a Sheffield basket maker widely known for her own work, sells kits, molds, black ask splint and tools to make your own baskets. She begins with kits for beginners, with careful instructions, and also has materials for more experienced basket-makers.
Colorful Stitches — The Lenox shop sells yarns in many colors, books and patterns, knitting and crochet supplies and all you need to start yourself a Hogwarts scarf or a snowy owl for a messenger …
Common Folk — The North Adams artists collective and vintage shop has moved online with imagination. You can get a surprise gift package, or a box from a local artist … handmade paper and cards, supplies for a date nigh. You can also find vintage clothing and mystery t shirts, or art supplies.
Going Gnome — The Great Barrington needle felters offer simple kits to make whimsical creatures, fair folk, magic toadstools … Needle felting is sculpting colored wool into shapes, and the basic craft is simple, but you can play with it endlessly. They offer their own felted toys too.
Freia yarns — A recent arrival at the Norad Mill, Freia dyes yarns in a vivid range of colors. Founder Tina Whitmore began as a photography student at the San Fransisco Art Institute and combines a lifelong love of knitting with a love of color.
Peace Train Tees — Make your own t-shirt, sweatshirt, coffee mug … Peace Train is a a small, locally and family owned printing and embroidery company in Pittsfield, and anything you want to say (and wear), they can make.
Thicket — Rebecca Perea-Kane, a silversmith in North Adams, creates jewelry inspired by natural forms — lemon or sycamore seeds, acorns, birch bark, honeycomb …
You can find more on Berkshire writers at the virtual storytellers page.
The Bookloft — The Bookloft will re-open their online store when they are allowed into their physical one, but you can still order books through affiliated websites and support them.
The Bookstore — The longtime Lenox independent book haven has curbside pickup if you call or email ahead, and they are happy to offer recommendations.
Northshire Books — the center of new and gently used gooks in Manchester, Vt., is open online with free priority shipping, and I can second the staffers who love This Is How You Lose the Time War.
Tupelo Press — The Berkshires’ own independent press has published awardwinning fiction, nonfiction and poetry for almost 20 years.
You can find more on Berkshire restaurants, farms and markets on the virtual food page.
Assembly Coffee — Assembly roasts coffees for their own webstore in small batches. Julia and Thomas Doyle came to the Berkshires almost 10 years ago. Julia was a partner at DCR in New York City, designing restaurants, and Thomas was formerly the head roaster at Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco and Brooklyn.
Baldwin extracts — Baldwins in West Stockbridge is as close as the Berkshires gets to alchemy, and their vanilla has a wide following. You can also find flavors, spices, baking decorations, raspberry chocolate chips …
Barrington Coffee Roasting Company — College friends Gregg Charbonneau and Barth Anderson founded Barrington Coffee Roasting Company in 1993. They and their team prepare coffee each day at their roastery in Lee, and they now ship from their online store.
Berkshire Mountain Bakery — Chocolate ciabatta? Artisanal sesame bread? Berkshire Mountain Bakery has earned a reputation for their natural sourdough, and they now offer more than 30 kinds of breads online.
Chocolate Springs — Joshua Needleman makes his own incomparable chocolate from scratch. Chocolate covered pretzels, peanut butter cups, meltingly smooth chocolate bars, the kind of hot chocolate a spoon will stand up in …
Dragon Well Tea Shop — Will Scmitt blends his own loose-leaf teas in North Adams, from Berkshire Breakfast to jasmine to chai, with free local delivery and shipping.
Mielke Confections — Steven and Trent Kinney took over the longtime Great Barrington chocolate shop a year ago to carry on the hand-dipped chocolates, chocolate-covered cherries, truffles, fudge …
Six Depot — West Stockbridge’s local hangout has made a name for their coffees (and the names of their blends: Notes from the Underground, the Sun Also Rises, Infinite Jest …) They are shipping coffee and tea and also flavored salts.
Tunnel City Coffee — The North Adams coffee roastery
wner Paul Lovegreen grew up in Woodford, Vt., and has roasted his own beans in the Northern Berkshires since 1992. He now has lively cafes in Williamstown, at Mass MoCA and near his roastery in the Norad Mill.
Belltower Records — After decades as Toonerville Trolley, the local record store has moved to the Norad Mill under new owners with just as varied and unexpected a collection. Classic rock, jazz and blues, Nina Simone and Joan Baez … you name it. You can get their records online here at Discogs.
Shop the Berkshires — This local group of makers offers a curated selection of books, food, jewelry, body care and home goods at one central website.