Pittsfield — Bead by bead, Beth and Greg Carpenter have built a business—and it has far exceeded their expectations. Yummy Treasures Bead Shop “started out of our basement in Pittsfield,” said Greg. It all began because Beth loved collecting jewelry and crafting supplies such as beads, findings and cabochons. In 2008 she set up a shop on Etsy.com to “see if she could make a few bucks” from this habit. “And it took off from there.”
You see, Beth has a knack. “I call her the hunter. Her ability to find things that are unique or that may not be on the market anymore, that’s what draws people to us.” In fact, so many people were drawn to their Etsy shop that the house soon filled up with inventory. Greg—who identifies as “the numbers guy” and the organizer of the operation—says they soon came to a “Jaws” moment when he said, “We’re going to need a bigger boat!”
This was reconfirmed when, about five years in to the venture, Yummy Treasures became the number one Etsy seller in the United States, selling more units than any other shop on the platform. They started working with Keith Girouard at the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network to plan the next move for Yummy Treasures, and eventually Beth and Greg were able to find the perfect space on Commercial Street in Pittsfield—affordable, spacious and with retail grandfathered in to the permit.
In October 2015 Yummy Treasures opened its doors to the public for the first time. Shortly after that, they started accepting BerkShares. “I had heard about BerkShares and it just seemed to fit with what is important to us as a company. It was a natural way to help the Berkshires thrive.” Greg is proud that Yummy Treasures is one of the BerkShares pioneers in central Berkshire County, noting that many of their customers are not familiar with the local currency. “We do a lot of educating. And that’s a good thing because it’s how you get the word around.”
Beth and Greg’s inclination toward education dovetails well with their commitment to excellent customer service. Greg puts it simply: “Just come in. Whatever it is you are looking for, we’ll be able to find it for you, and we’re going to give you a reasonable price. It’s a knowledgeable staff, and we’ll do whatever we can to help you ‘feed your creativity.’”
Connection to community is an important theme for the Carpenters, and so they made sure to include big wooden tables in their shop so that customers can come in to work on projects or simply hang out. Yummy Treasures also regularly hosts jewelry-making and crafting lessons. Greg says that one pleasant surprise has been that their store is now a destination for people from neighboring regions, which creates a multiplier effect: “Not only are we making a living, but our visitors are also adding to the wider economy here in the Berkshires.”
Opening a brick and mortar store, accepting BerkShares–are these backwards choices in a time when we are experiencing what Greg calls “the Amazonization of America?” Not at all, he contends. “What it comes down to–in this day and age when everything is so homogenized–is being different.” It seems that many agree and, in April 2017, Yummy Treasures was recognized by the Small Business Administration as the Microenterprise of the Year in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.