Locke Larkin, the man behind Berkshire County’s oldest established gourmet food shop, Locke Stock & Barrel, laughs when asked about “the local movement,” because for him it just means that he has been around long enough to see things come full circle. A native of the Berkshires, he grew up in a household that was both producer and merchant. His family kept pigs, chickens, cows, horses, and a garden, and his father and grandfather ran Larkin's Market on Railroad Street in Great Barrington. On Sundays the family would slaughter, pluck, and gut the chickens they would sell in the store that week.
How often can you still find an independently owned bookstore, one with the local flavor leant by a used book section, a large collection of local histories, and books signed by local authors? Less and less often, as Eric Wilska, co-owner of the Bookloft on Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington, will tell you. In the 39 years since he opened the Bookloft he says he has seen the number of independent bookstores in Massachusetts west of the Connecticut River drop from thirteen to only four. However, it is no coincidence that the Bookloft is one of those four survivors.