Four new businesses have opened or will open early this summer on Spring Street. Anne Kennedy will open a clothing store in number 36, to the left of Hart’s Pharmacy, called The School for Style. Hermelinda Patino and Tony Columna co-own the new Mexican restaurant, Tony’s Sombrero, going in number 69. Next door, Barbara Ernst Prey ’79 will soon open an art gallery. Finally, Denise Labelle of St. Pierre’s Barber Shop will open a unisex hair shop in Eph Alley.
Kennedy’s pop-up shop will sell “vintage and limited edition clothing, jewelry and accessories and decorative objects.” Kennedy also said she would like the store to be “a kind of gathering place. There will be places to sit so that it’s a welcoming place.” The store will open at the end of May and remain open until October. However, Kennedy added, “if it does well throughout the summer and into the fall I would like it to stay open longer.”
The School for Style’s target market includes “college students and up.” Kennedy is renting her space from the College and is “interested in having that connection with the College because I think that demographic doesn’t have many choices … in town,” for “fashion forward” shopping. Kennedy compares her store to Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. Customers will be able to purchase accessories for $20 and less, while clothing prices will range from $20 and up; “The idea is to have many price points.”
Kennedy decided to open The School for Style as “an additional outlet … to fulfill [her] interest in design and clothing” when she is in Williamstown and not traveling as a theatrical costume designer. Kennedy has used her connections as a costume designer to procure items created locally and “from all over the United States.” Most merchandise will be hand-made; the owner emphasizes her business will sell “a lot of reclaimed objects, a lot of recycled goods, a lot of handmade … as opposed to factory made things.” The School for Style will sell hats created by a hat maker in North Carolina, pillows by a fiber artist in Washington D.C., “bags and jewelry [made] out of reclaimed objects like old karate belts” from a theater artist in New York, and a “good deal of merchandise made by artists from the Berkshires.”
Tony’s Sombrero will offer “burritos, quesadillas and tacos” as well as daily specials and special orders. Appetizers and desserts such as flan and Mexican cakes will be served, and customers of Tony’s Sombrero will also be able to purchase Mexican sodas. As chef, co-owner Tony Columna plans to use “some local ingredients.”
Tony’s Sombrero will cater students on a budget with dishes for $6 to $12 dollars and offer take-out. Columna and Patino will consider delivery once they are more established. Columna plans on making his restaurant a permanent fixture of Spring Street: “My plan now is to be open,” although he also expressed the possibility of closing for winter months and will likely be closed one day a week on Mondays.
Next door to Tony’s Sombrero, Ernst Prey will open a permanent art gallery in mid-May. For no entrance fee, students will be able to view “a rotating collection.” According to Ernst Prey, “there will be current work as well as new oil paintings and I hope to exhibit some of my work painted in Asia during my Henry Luce Foundation Scholarship.”
As an alumnus of the College, Ernst Prey has “spent a lot of time painting the Williamstown area. A gallery on Spring Street is in some ways like a homecoming for me,” she said. Many collectors and followers of her art also live in the Berkshires. Ernst Prey lectures and exhibits around the world, “most recently a retrospective in Paris curated by Sarah Cash at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.” She states, “I am very excited about having a gallery in Williamstown and being able to exhibit different bodies of artwork.”
While many students of the College will be customers of these new businesses, some students will also be employed at these businesses. Kennedy states she has a “great large window that I’d like to have students guest curate – like an art installation combined with merchandise from the store.” Four Williams students are helping Ernst Prey at her gallery, and Columna expressed interest in hiring students from the College “if I need help.”
Roger St. Pierre, whose barber shop is currently situated at 18 Spring Street, will most likely move to a new location in the Denison Gate House, pending an agreement with the College. As he nears retirement, St. Pierre is interested in reducing his hours and hopes that downsizing his business will help him to “slow down.” The services offered at the new shop, provided St. Pierre reaches an agreement with the College, would be very similar to its current offerings. Though the deal is still tentative and will not be concrete for about a week, St. Pierre is hopeful that it will be successful and he will move to the new location. St. Pierre’s coworker Denise LaBelle will be opening a unisex hair shop in Eph Alley, behind the former That’s a Wrap, on June 1. It will be called LaBelle’s Unisex Hair Shop, and she hopes to offer “good haircuts for a good price” to a wide range of clientele, regardless of gender.