When Emily Carlotta goes out to dinner, she recognizes people by their feet. “I think, ‘I helped them get those boots – I knew they’d like them!’” Carlotta is the store manager and buyer at Barrington Outfitters at 289 Main Street in Great Barrington, and she loves where she works.
Brothers Richard and Peter Drucker founded Barrington Outfitters in 1994, twenty-one years ago. “That’s a long time to be in business in a small town,” notes Carlotta. But the Druckers know something about small-town business. Their father owned and operated Bob’s Clothing & Shoes in Canaan, Connecticut, for decades. The brothers have now had their own shop for almost a generation. The key to their success might be the way they embrace their community and invest for the long haul, even as life in the Berkshires evolves. “We are family-oriented business in a prominent location in town. We are involved in our community and we help our customers spend their money wisely. We focus on what the customer is looking for and if we don’t have it, we get it,” says Carlotta matter-of-factly.
However, there does seem to be a theme. “People want functional and versatile pieces that they can wear into the garden or into town. For instance, my #1 favorites are Blundstone boots. I can wear them all day at work, or on a hike, or out to dinner.” And she always has her eyes open for new clothing lines, like Toad & Co. or Vermont-made Ibex. But what she has seen repeatedly is the resurgence of classic brands such as Sorel, Woolrich, and Birkenstock. “Old is new, that’s how fashion works. If it worked thirty years ago it’ll work now.”
Carlotta has also noticed a growing awareness of where and how our goods are made. In just the last ten years she has seen a lot more transparency from the clothing industry about what we are buying and wearing. “We try to know where everything comes from, how it’s made and how it’s sourced,” Carlotta notes, “because it gives the consumer a lot of buying power!” People often ask about U.S.-made goods, and Carlotta likes to imagine Berkshire-made goods. “I think there’s an opportunity for so many more things to be made here. We just need people who want to take it on. We would love to offer Berkshire-made products in our store.”
Barrington Outfitters’ enthusiasm for BerkShares comes from this same attitude; the Druckers and Carlotta see parallels between the kind of buying power that can reshape the clothing industry and the kind of buying power that can reshape our local economy. “When someone spends BerkShares with us we’re really excited. We know that person is making a conscious purchase. They went to the bank and got BerkShares and then came to our store.”
And they come because Barrington Outfitters is not cookie-cutter or generic. “What I love about working here is the flexibility. If we think something is not getting the attention it deserves we can move it, or change the outfit on a mannequin. And when it comes to buying, Richard and Peter tell me ‘you can spend this amount of money with this company.’ They don’t tell me I have to buy this, this, and this.” Carlotta finds that this kind of empowerment pays off, creating happy employees who really know their stuff. “We wouldn’t be as successful without such great team. I look forward to going to work every day.”