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Terry Cowgill
As a worker sprays for dust control, heavy equipment from Daley & Sons of Lee extracts demolition debris from the former Marty & Jim's sandwich shop on Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington Monday morning.

Former sandwich shop demolished to make way for parking lot

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By Monday, Jul 22, 2019 News 10

Great Barrington — A building that made generations of mouths water was torn down today to make room for a parking lot.

Heavy equipment from Daley & Sons of Lee lifts demolition debris from the former Marty & Jim’s sandwich shop on Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington Monday morning. Photo: Terry Cowgill

The two-story structure that formerly housed Marty & Jim’s sandwich shop was demolished this morning. The rubble will be carted away, the foundation will then be demolished and filled in to create more parking space for Goodwill Industries, which relocated to the former Sears appliance store on Stockbridge Road earlier this year.

“It’s been in the works for a while,” said Craig Barnum, who purchased the empty Sears store and the adjacent building in February for $1.2 million from Austin and Carole Mooney of Egremont. “We’re going to level it and give Goodwill one of the best parking lots on Stockbridge Road. Parking is oxygen to buildings. This will give them a nice, big open lot.”

Barnum’s tenant is Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, which had operated a retail outlet in a Stockbridge Road building that it shared with Laramee Cleaners between Mavis Tire and Theory Wellness, the cannabis retailer. Barnum and Goodwill announced the move in February.

Barnum said at that time he was considering his options for the outbuilding. In addition to the ground-floor retail space that housed the sandwich shop, there was an apartment on the second floor of the building, which reportedly had mold issues.

While Barnum said he did receive some rental inquiries, he decided the lot would be more valuable as parking than as a rental unit.

A cashier helps a customer inside the Great Barrington Goodwill store. Photo: Terry Cowgill

“The building was in rough shape,” Barnum explained. “Parking is the highest and best use long-term for the property.”

Business has been brisk at the Goodwill, said Barnum, who referred specific questions about the store to CEO David Twiggs of Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, which operates the store.

Twiggs said the number of donors and shoppers has definitely increased since the move but he did not have exact number at his fingertips.

“We’ve outgrown the property already, so that says a lot,” Twiggs said.

He said the project will add about a dozen new spaces to the 30 or so that already exist. In addition, Goodwill plans to put up a fence along the northern border of the property. The added spaces will also improve the traffic flow for donors who use the loading-dock drop-off point at the rear of the building.

“The amount of impact Goodwill has had is remarkable,” Barnum explained. “Support from the community has been awesome.”

Indeed, on Monday morning there were several shoppers in the 5,600-square-foot store and few empty parking spaces in the lot. The Sears building has almost five times the floor space compared to Goodwill’s store in the Laramee Cleaners building.

The former Sears building was built in 1997 on a little more than 8/10 of an acre and totals some 8,400 square feet, including a large storage room at the rear. It is zoned for business and has additional storage on the second floor that is serviced by a lift.

The sign for the former Smitty’s Sandwich Shop. Image courtesy Four Square

Before Marty & Jim’s, there were two other eateries at various times in the outbuilding: Angelina’s and Smitty’s Sandwich Shop. David and Jeanne Smith owned both the Sears building and sandwich shop. They sold both to the Mooneys for $1.85 million 10 years ago. Smith is a selectman in Sheffield and a former selectman in Great Barrington.

Local historian Gary Leveille said, once upon a time, there were several older homes on Stockbridge Road. Most, including the sandwich shop building, were designed to look like Victorians. Most have been demolished or turned into retail with apartments upstairs, as the sandwich shop structure was.

There are only a couple of single-family residential homes left on that stretch of Stockbridge Road: a stucco home to the south of the Goodwill building and a blue Cape Cod next to the Greylock Federal Credit Union office. Previously there were residential homes where the Cove bowling alley and the Marketplace Cafe (the former Friendly’s) are currently located.

“One by one, they have been torn down,” Leveille said. “They were just average homes.”

There was what Leveille described as an “absolutely beautiful inn” where the Lipton Mart is now. From 1886 to 1932, the Berkshire Street Railway Company trolley ran along Stockbridge Road through that section of town.

And of course, with the exception of the trolley, Stockbridge Road was largely quiet and residential until the 1950s and ‘60s, when it began its evolution into the bustling commercial strip it is now.

Stockbridge Road as it looked in the 1920s before the stretch of road became a bustling commercial strip. Note the trolley line on the east side of the street. Image courtesy Great Barrington Historical Society


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10 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Art A says:

    We may read about “booming economies” in the paper and low unemployment rates and hear about “fantastic” stock investments from the wanna be tzar in the w.h. , but for the 99% of us on the ground, we see the realities. There’s a reason why a business such as Goodwill finds business increasing by leaps and bounds and dollar stores thrive, not just in Berkshire County but all over the country, as the money continues to sink to the top.

    1. Kayemtee says:

      Well said, Sir.
      Sad that the most successful stores in GB are Dollar Tree and Goodwill.

  2. Jerry says:

    That building made mouths water. Generations of mouths, ceaselessly watering.

    Recently I was suffering dry mouth after a trip to theory wellness. Fortunately, I had to drive by the building that once housed Marty and Jim’s. Problem solved; saliva returned to my arid orifice. In that moment, I could have swallowed half a hoagie with nary a chew thanks to that building. Couldn’t agree with Terry more. Terry and Jerry, in full agreement.

  3. Pachano says:

    I normally stay out of parking debates because parking has become a pseudo-civic right on par with basic human rights. However, seeing land taken off the market to temporarily store cars during business hours on one of the most visible roads on GB to provide “oxygen” to the Goodwill seems like just about the worst use of land for the public good. This parking lot will ensure that Stockbridge Road will remain a suburban strip with little bicycle or pedestrian presence. All of this without mentioning that a historically residential site is now lost to housing people. Instead it will house automobiles and add to the affordability problem we face in GB. Land is scarce in our town and we should not be taking any of it off the market to store cars.
    (https://theberkshireedge.com/its-not-that-simple-low-density-development-an-idea-whose-time-may-have-passed/)

    There is a much literature on the high cost of free parking that we should start paying more attention to if we want socially vibrant and economically rich towns to live in. Perhaps this will get some of you thinking about the price we all pay for the land use that is proposed here:

    https://www.sightline.org/2013/08/08/park-place/

    https://www.planetizen.com/blogs/96957-fun-parking-facts

  4. George McGurn says:

    And please note the majesty of the elms that graced Stockbridge Rd.

  5. Steve Farina says:

    Isn’t this because of the “planning” as reflected in the zoning? If this area was meant to be residential, then it shouldn’t be zoned for business…or was there a planning error?
    Rest assured, however. There will still be pedestrian and bicycle traffic for a while, as there are still many in town who can’t afford to own a car (sometimes due to the high rents in town – and even if they could they would have parking issues in many areas due to zoning), don’t have the spare change to take BRTA, yet still would like to get to PC and the dollar store, and yes, even to shop at Goodwill.

    Oh, and by the way, this is private property. It is not about the best use of land for the public good, though it does happen to house a business whose goal is to serve the public good.

    Congratulations to Goodwill on their successful expansion to serve a much needed segment of our retail environment. It is one of the few affordable places to shop for many in the community.

    1. Steve Farina says:

      This was meant to be a response to Pachano, not in the general comment field.

  6. Craig Okerstrom-Lang says:

    It would be so pleasant to see some hardy shade trees installed in this property to literally provide some oxygen to our local environment. Plus much needed shade.

    The picture of the allee of Elm trees is magnificent from bygone days.

    Our Town Tree Committee should get involved with providing new trees here.

    1. Lauren Clark says:

      I agree, Craig. My first thought was, well, I hope they’ll at least plant some shade trees in this new sea of asphalt. Or some trees and a solar roof strip like I see built in places where they think about such things…

  7. Bethany says:

    Ohhhhhhh,
    $$ not actual O2 🌳🌳, I get it !

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