Name: Karen Roach
Occupation: co-owner of Berkshire Hills Market
How long have you owned the Berkshire Hills Market?
My husband and I started the Berkshire Hills Market in September, 1991…so it’s been eight and a half years.
Do you have a lot of competition, or do you find that a regular customer base comes here?
We have a regular customer base that we’re very thankful for. When we started, we spent a lot of time doing business planning, and the street was totally different then – there were not a lot of competitors. And the thing that we heard was that there was no place to find any really good fresh fish. We thought there was a real need at that time, and a lot of people had encouraged us, because my husband is a chef, and he’s really wonderful.
So are fish and meat your specialties?
Well, when we started out, before Stop and Shop came, we had a whole line of groceries – it was more of a market then. But we found, through the years, that really people wanted our sandwiches. We kind of changed to go with what people wanted.
What’s your favorite sandwich here?
Oh, boy! I probably have smoked turkey just about every day, but chicken salad is great, and tuna is another one. The roast beef is really great here when it’s rare, and my husband usually does it really well.
What about dessert?
Oh, chocolate chunk cookies. And the brownies are incredible…have you had a brownie?
No, I was actually planning to buy one on my way out.
They’re in the oven – you might have to wait. But if they’re done, I’ll cut you a free one.
Cool! So did you know from the start, when you got married, that you wanted to go into this kind of business?
[Laughs]. Oh, God, no! My husband was in a car accident, and he had what they call “post-concussion syndrome,” and he could only work so many hours doing something, and then he’d fall asleep. So what he did is build a smokehouse in our backyard – because it always fascinated him, and he’d been a chef before – and started smoking things, and seeing how he did. And that’s how we started: as Berkshire Hills Smokehouse in our house, because that’s all he could do. He studied a lot with Culinary Institute of America people, and had all this basis beforehand, before the accident. So that’s how it started.
Do you see a lot of Williams students here?
Yeah, we love Williams students. We did something strange this year: We have three sons – 12, 10 and 7 years old – who are sports people, and they play hockey. So we went to every single Williams hockey game, and then we bought all the hockey players sandwiches. Well, at least, for those we could find.
How many did you find?
Well, we were trying to get all of the seniors, at least – but there’s one senior we haven’t met yet, and I don’t know who it is. But we sent out messages and everything…
So did your sons meet them all?
Well, they didn’t get to meet one of them who came – one of their favorite ones came when it was so busy. I don’t think I’ve seen him since: Jeff Russell. But one of the goalies came in, and we recognized him right away.
Well, hockey season is over. Now what?
Now, we’re working on the baseball team. And I don’t have any girls, so we have to make an effort to get to know women’s sports – you can’t neglect the women, you know.