Business, One Block: Main Street, Williamsburg

  • Ruben Swenson makes a key for Lance Lashway of Florence at Williamsburg Pharmacy & Hardware at 49 Main St. in Williamsburg. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Country Corral, at 35 Main St. in Williamsburg, specializes in food for critters large and small, wild or domestic. Taken on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Brian Miller, left, and Luke Felton enjoy lunch at A-1 Hilltown Pizza at 35 Main St., Williamsburg. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Cesar Mora makes a pair of pizzas at A-1 Hilltown Pizza at 35 Main St. in Williamsburg on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Cesar Mora makes a pair of pizzas at A-1 Hilltown Pizza at 35 Main St. in Williamsburg on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Tim Barrus helps a customer at Country Corral at 49 Main St., Williamsburg. The shop specializes in food for critters large and small, wild or domestic, but sells other items like seeds. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Tim Barrus is the proprietor of Country Corral at 35 Main St. in Williamsburg. The shop specializes in food for critters large and small, wild or domestic, but sells other items like seeds. Taken on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.  GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • David Urbanski  helps a customer at Main Street Package Store at 35 Main St. in Williamsburg. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • A-1 Hilltown Pizza, Main Street Package Store and Country Corral (around back) are located at 35 Main Street in Williamsburg. Taken on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • "The Colonial Shoppes of Williamsburg" building at 49 Main St. in Williamsburg now includes new tenant Elbow Room Coffee as of Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo taken on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.) GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • "The Colonial Shoppes of Williamsburg" building at 49 Main St. in Williamsburg features a wrap-around porch that connects Panda Garden, Elbow Room Coffee and Williamsburg Pharmacy & Hardware. (Photo taken on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.) GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Denise Pavao of Ashfield enters Williamsburg Pharmacy & Hardware at 49 Main St. in Williamsburg. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Alan Stoppel of Worthington exits Williamsburg Pharmacy & Hardware at 49 Main St. in Williamsburg. The front porch includes benches, a mailbox and a bulletin board of Hilltown real estate listings. (Photo taken on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.) GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • A maneki-neko, or beckoning cat, greets  visitors to Panda Garden at 49 Main St. in Williamsburg. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • A maneki-neko, or beckoning cat, greets visitors to Panda Garden at 49 Main St. in Williamsburg. (Photo taken on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.) GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Elbow Room Coffee, Panda Garden and Williamsburg Pharmacy & Hardware are all housed in “The Colonial Shoppes of Williamsburg” building at 49 Main St. in Williamsburg. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 2/20/2018 11:02:40 AM

THE BLOCK:

Drive 20 minutes down Route 9 from downtown Northampton and you’ll find a small commercial center on Main Street in Williamsburg that’s full of character. A Cumberland Farms gas station stands out as the only corporate chain behind a backdrop of small local business.

WHY COME HERE?

The Williamsburg Pharmacy and Hardware Store is part of a cooperative network called Good Neighbor Pharmacy, which consists of over 3,200 independently owned pharmacies around the country. Owner Greg Conz, who started the pharmacy in 1986, said the “Good Neighbor” name is a fitting one because of the local, grassroots nature of his business.

“I think as an independent community pharmacy we have a better opportunity to get to know our patients, tailor to their needs,” Conz said, adding that the pharmacy also will deliver to patients who have difficulty getting to the store.

Conz said he originally started the pharmacy because he “wanted to break away from corporate America.” Any visitor to Main Street in Williamsburg will have the opportunity to do just that.

FEEL OF THE PLACE:

A red and white sign with chipping paint that reads “The Colonial Shoppes of Williamsburg” hangs above an old wooden building that houses the Williamsburg Pharmacy and Hardware Store, the Panda Garden restaurant and as of Saturday, Elbow Room Coffee.

But the business that perhaps best reflects the rural, authentic feel of the place is Tim Barrus’ Country Coral. Tucked behind A-1 Hilltown Pizza and the Main Street Package Store at 35 Main St., the animal feed and farm supply store is a one-man-business run entirely by Barrus, 69, who has never had a single employee in the 20 years he’s run the shop.

While there’s a sign for the store on the road, the building itself is unmarked besides a small sign above the door that says “enter here.”

The storefront is cluttered with boxes and bags of various feed and fertilizers. Three large white trailers and two vans stocked with merchandise also sit out front. Through the door, half-full boxes of supplies line a narrow hallway leading to the register.

But the clutter doesn’t bother Barrus’ customers, whom he described as very loyal. He said he knows many of them personally, and takes pride in making sure he has what they need.

“I try to be aware of who they are and what they’re going to need,” he said. “When people come through the door looking for something, I enjoy being able to provide it for them.”

WHAT’S NEW:

The latest change to the business center was finalized Saturday when Elbow Room Coffee reopened in a new space at 49 Main St. next to Panda Garden.

The coffee shop, which offers fresh-brewed organic coffee, espresso and other fair-trade beverage options, was previously housed next door at 47 Main St. in an old mill building up a small hill.

WHAT’S ENDURING:

Conz said he took a gamble when he decided to open up a pharmacy in Williamsburg. He had no background in pharmacy, and came up with the idea after conducting a grass-roots poll of Williamsburg residents asking what they’d like to see open most in the town.

“I thought to myself, ‘what do I know about pharmacy? What do I know about retail? Nothing,’” he said.

But despite his early reservations, Conz and his pharmacy remain on Main Street 32 years later, even as many other neighboring businesses have come and gone.

Conz said that the main reason his business has been able to survive is because of a willingness to adapt and change with the times.

THE PLAYERS:

Other businesses on the block include Good to Go “Heat and Eat” Dinners and a Done Right Chimney Showroom. The two stores share a building at 45 Main St. between Cumberland Farms and Elbow Room Coffee.

THE UPSIDE:

Located at the heart of a small, tight-knit community, business owners on Main Street like Conz and and Barrus said they enjoy a base of loyal customers.

Barrus also said he moved his shop to Main Street in 2004 in part because of the advantageous location on one of the busiest roads in the area.

Both Conz and Barrus said that the rural geography of the area is another strength of the location because there’s relatively little competition in the vicinity.

THE DOWNSIDE:

Barrus and Conz said both said running a small business in a small town can challenging and demanding.

“You have to be very sharp to be profitable,” he said. “There’s not a lot of room for error.”

Barrus said that running the business on his own can be very straining because he has to do all the physical and administrative labor himself.

“It’s a rough business. I have to work hard, both physically and mentally,” he said.

VERBATIM:

“I like what I’m doing, I enjoy what I’m doing. When people come through the door looking for something, I enjoy being able to provide it for them,” Barrus said.




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