Provisions store coming to Amherst Mill District

  • Benson Hyde, who is the owner and manager of Provisions in Northampton, holds wines he frequently recommends for weddings, Friday, Aug. 2, 2019.

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2020 6:49:49 PM

AMHERST — In the midst of a global pandemic that has caused a significant economic downturn, it may seem a leap of faith by business owners to expand by opening a second store.

For Bruce McAmis and Benson Hyde, owners of Provisions in Northampton, the decision to bring a new location to North Amherst does have an element of risk.

But in a phone interview Wednesday, a day after signing a lease to join the Mill District, McAmis said Provisions becoming an anchor for a still-developing commercial area is an opportunity.

“We’d been thinking about an expansion for a while, and thought about Amherst for a new location, and we sort of found each other earlier this year,” McAmis said of working with Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls Inc., who oversees the Mill District. “We’re looking at Amherst for the long term in spite of COVID.”

Provisions opened in late 2011 at 30 Crafts Ave. offering fine and distinctive wines, craft beers and gourmet foods, with a cheesemonger and charcuterie, and recently added spirits.

At the Amherst store, at 113 Cowls Road, McAmis said a beer and wine license will be sought before the opening in September.

The Amherst Provisions will include the same staple items, and also host classes and events when allowed. About 10 people will work at the store, the same number as in Northampton, McAmis said.

“The idea is to run a store that is similar,” McAmis said.

As part of the move, Provisions will temporarily occupy what Jones calls the Cow Barn, which for the past five years has been home to the Atkins Farms Country Market satellite store. That closed last month as management announced in December that it would focus on the Atkins flagship store in South Amherst.

Jones said Provisions eventually will move to retail space on the ground level of the neighboring North Square apartments. That spot will be built to specifications before the relocation, sometime in 2021.

Jones called having Provisions join the Mill District a “game changer” that helps set the bar high for other future tenants.

“We have a vivid plan for an experiential destination downtown featuring, eats, arts and entertainment,” Jones said. 

The Mill District General Store is among stores she said will be part of the 22,000 square feet of new commercial space. She is hoping to line up other businesses, and is hoping to see enterprises along the lines of a Korean deli, a yoga studio, a nail salon, a store for vintage clothing and a place selling and painting antique furniture.

Once vacated by Provisions, the Cow Barn would be turned into a music venue, a movie theater, or possibly a children’s playspace, Jones said.

The Mill District also has Jake’s at the Mill restaurant and the Lift salon in the Trolley Barn, on the opposite side of Cowls Road.

While planning for the opening of a second Provisions is underway, McAmis and Hyde have also recently started up Bottle-O at 166 King St. in Northampton at the former site of King Street Liquors. McAmis said the store is selling specialty wine and beer, and will soon have snack and party items as well. 

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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