Pharmacy and health drinks store open as Uptown Tunnel closes

Lucy Walker

Williamstown Apothecary

On Jan. 17, the College announced the development of the Williamstown Apothecary, a new pharmacy opening at 72 Spring Street in partnership with Berkshire Health Systems (BHS). The partnership with BHS began approximately six months ago with the goal of providing expanded access to prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and other health and wellness products for students. 

“It’s a partnership in the sense that we’re working together,” said Matt Sheehy, associate vice president for finance and administration. “We’ve asked that all the prescriptions that we write from the student health center be sent to that pharmacy. In a lot of ways, it’s no different than when we say it’s a partnership in supporting their business. There’s no investment on behalf of the college in a sense of ownership of the business.” 

The opening of the pharmacy was in part a response to students, faculty and community residents requesting more streamlined access to their prescriptions and other healthcare products. “It was born out of a bunch of organic conversations and a realization that there was an opportunity to think about various needs,” Sheehy said. “We’re hopeful that this new business in town will help alleviate some of the logistical issues students were facing.” 

The Williamstown Apothecary is scheduled to open this spring, once renovations to the property are completed. In addition to prescriptions, BHS staff have indicated that the facility will sell a variety of vitamins, high quality skincare products, local handmade soaps, herbal medicines and teas. However, the College is still deliberating on what products have the greatest community need, given that Spring Street Market and the Williams Bookstore already supply certain health and beauty products.

The “Apothecary” label is meant to differentiate the business from a standard pharmacy, evoking the nostalgia of a small-town business. “The Apothecary was designed to have an old-time feel, with a very open floor plan,” said David Leary, Director of Media Relations for BHS. “It will offer expert prescription and over-the-counter medication access and guidance from our professional pharmacists.” 

Uptown Tunnel City Coffee

Uptown Tunnel, the Tunnel City location in the Williams Bookstore, closed on Dec. 31, 2019. The closure was the decision of Tunnel City management, who found that the location wasn’t as profitable as they had hoped. Chris Cozzaglio, an employee of Tunnel City, worked as the manager of the bookstore location, acting as the correspondent between the bookstore and Tunnel City. “In between semesters, during breaks, we weren’t really getting a lot of revenue, so it didn’t make sense to have it open,” said Cozzaglio. “Our busy times were really the beginning and end of the semester.” 

The owners of Uptown Tunnel indicated at the beginning of 2019 that they likely would not renew their lease for the coming year. “We really started looking into the option around September, and then, as the semester commenced and we saw what we were making, it became finalized towards the end of October,” said Cozzaglio. 

While both the school and Tunnel City were initially excited about the partnership, Uptown Tunnel failed to generate enough business from students, despite experimenting with a variety of ideas. “The ownership was really great in trying out a number of different concepts from staying open late to thinking about differentiating the service you might get there versus at Tunnel City,” said Sheehy. 

The space is currently empty, with the counter being used as extra shelving, but the College is actively seeking new tenants. “We’re interested in any and all ideas,” said Sheehy. So far, a number of businesses have expressed interest, and the College has considered filling the facility with something different from a standard café. Ideas including soups, ramen and frozen yogurt have been proposed, but the College has not reached a decision yet. 

Unlimited Nutrition

Unlimited Nutrition opened on Jan. 5 at 31 Spring Street, which was previously occupied by a Subway. The health drinks store is run by Jackie Therrien and MacKenzie Huntoon, both recent graduates of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

The store specializes in flavored teas and health shakes. Several of the teas are described as “energizing” or “boosted” and have zero grams of fat and sugar, using flavored stevia instead. The shakes are plant-based and come in a variety of dessert-themed flavors like Strawberry Cheesecake, Pecan Sticky Bun and White Chocolate Reese’s. The shakes range between 200-300 calories, with an average of 10 grams of sugar per shake. 

Huntoon and Therrien were inspired by the owners of a business called Unbreakable Nutrition in West Sand Lake, N.Y., which also specializes in teas and plant-based shakes. “We bugged them to open a store out here like theirs so we could stop driving so far for our shakes and teas,” Therrien said. “We explained to them how these products have truly changed our lives, and then they offered us the opportunity to open our own store.” 

As of now, Huntoon and Therrien are the only staff, relying on family and friends as volunteers during busier times as they start their business. They have plans to expand their staff and have “big plans” for the future. “Unlimited Nutrition is committed to creating a positive community environment where people can enjoy nutrition,” Huntoon said. “We believe that together we can make small healthy changes that can have a big impact on your life.”