Annual Appeal 2015

This year, we’re working to take “buy local” to the next level.

Since BerkShares were launched in 2006 we have focused on “keeping it local.” BerkShares have been a leading voice and shining example of the “buy local” movement, and consumers have become more aware of what they’re buying, and from where.

But if we are to continue to build a healthy and diverse regional economy here in the Berkshires we will need to think bigger. We – consumers, producers, institutional buyers, business owners, and government officials – will need to ask “What do we currently import that we could produce here, instead? How do we make that local production possible?”

We call this approach Community Supported Industry.

Community Supported Industry is like Community Supported Agriculture. Producers and consumers work together to make local production possible. Community members buy in to a local business, helping to ensure that the enterprise succeeds. We replace imported products with local products, in the process employing local people, retaining our resources in the region, and creating shorter and more transparent supply chains.

This year, in addition to our everyday work promoting our BerkShares businesses and beating the “buy local” drum, we are asking you to contribute to BerkShares, Inc.’s Community Supported Industry effort. This work includes a survey of business owners conducted in cooperation with the town of Great Barrington to identify opportunities for import replacement, as well as a business-planning course for local young people, ages 14 to 25, called Entry to Entrepreneurship. Both projects promise to reveal opportunities, create connections, and spark new vibrancy in our local economy.

Be a part of the Community Supported Industry story. Please lend your support by making an end-of-the year donation!

Alice Maggio, Executive Director

Board of Trustees: Daniel Bellow, Kate Chebatoris, Catherine Chester, Ted Dobson, Tim Geller, Brian Hailes, Dominic Palumbo, Joe Scully, Jennifer Tabakin, Sierra Watson, Susan Witt



At our Annual Meeting in October, one of our BerkShares business owners illustrated how Community Supported Industry is a step beyond “buy local” thinking.

Phyllis and Dale Webb, owners of The Magic Fluke Company, try to buy as much as possible from local vendors. Sometimes, however, they find a gap, where something they need is not available locally. The wooden necks for their instruments, for example, were until recently being made in the Midwest. But, with forests surrounding us here in the Berkshires, Phyllis and Dale saw an opportunity to find a source for these parts closer to home.

The Webbs brought their designs to a local woodworking business that makes high-end architectural installations and asked them to produce the instrument necks to their specifications. The woodworkers agreed.

Phyllis and Dale are now able to buy the parts they need from a family-owned business just 15 minutes away from their ukulele factory.  The woodworker’s original business, which had previously had very busy times and very slow times, is now complemented by a steady demand for ukulele, violin, and electric bass parts, evening out their cash flow. For Phyllis and Dale, communication with their supplier and just-in-time deliveries have become that much easier.

What’s best, the money that The Magic Fluke Company spends on those instrument necks will now remain in the Berkshires, where its impact will be multiplied as it circulates from hand to hand.

If we want to hear more stories like Phyllis and Dale’s and see shifts like these on a larger scale we all have to pitch in and lend our ideas, our expertise, our time…and we need to put our money where our mouth is. Thank you for being a part of this initiative.

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