Wednesday January 9, 2013

PHIL DEMERS

and JENNIFER HUBERDEAU

North Adams Transcript

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- H. Greenberg & Son Inc. shocked Northern Berkshire with the abrupt closing of its Curran Highway location Tuesday. Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said Tuesday afternoon that he had learned that of the closing early in the morning.

"I found out from a reliable source that [owner] Steve Greenberg came in [Tuesday] morning and announced the store was closing," he said. "I have heard that of the store's 20 employees, both full- and part-time, that eight would be retained and have been offered relocation to the Bennington, Vt., store. I have also heard that only eight would lose employment. It is still unclear at this point."

Efforts to reach Greenberg's ownership for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

"It's a sad day," Alcombright said. "Greenberg's has been part of this community for many years. It's been a great community partner and provided a great product. The city will certainly miss them. I wish there was some way this could have been done differently, but it unfortunately seems as if it was business decision that is final."

His sentiments were shared by many, some among Tuesday's traffic at the lumberyard. Visitors included shoppers, people seeking to return items and larger-scale contractors who'd done business there for years.

Alcombright had not yet spoken to the store's owner Tuesday afternoon, and said "I don't have any real understanding of the reasons for the closing." He offered an assumption that the local business climate had much to do with it.

Greenberg's bought the 6.5-acre swath where the store is located - at the corner of Curran Highway and Hodges Cross Road -- from Transcript Publishing Association Inc. for $60,000 in 1974. An 18,000-square-foot space was built and enjoyed its grand opening a year later.

The business has since served as one of the community's unofficial meeting places, supplying a sizable portion of Northern Berkshire's hardware needs, including housewares, heating, plumbing and electrical equipment, paint, power tools, appliances, paneling, gardening products and lumber. The business' roots in Bennington date back over a century, but it saw its greatest growth under Norman H. Greenberg, who became president in 1962.