This summer the Trail Town Outreach Corps took a road trip to New England and visited a number of great small businesses along the way, supporting the local economy and checking out various sustainable practices. Here’s a brief summary of what we saw, ate, and bought! If anything in particular catches your eye or inspires you, talk to us — we’ll work together to make it work for you!
- Faces, Northampton, MA — A great, funky store that sells fun clothing (by American Apparel and other companies that are made in the U.S.A. and/or “sweatshop free” and use organic and/or sustainably harvested fibers), books, trinkets, housewares, cards and more. They enter customers who bring their own bag into a raffle for a $25 gift certificate each month to reduce the number of plastic bags that enter the waste-stream!
- Herrell’s Ice Cream, Northampton, MA — A truly scrumptious local ice cream producer. With such interesting flavors as Carrot Cake Batter, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, and classics like Cookies and Cream, they have something for everybody. They make all of their own ice cream on site with all-natural, preservative free ingredients, and even serve up real chocolate sprinkles. Steve Herrell, owner, originated the “mix-in” now used by other ice cream shops like Coldstone Creamery; Ben and Jerry learned their craft from this guy!
- Local Burger, Northampton, MA — A hopping downtown spot serving up burgers made from locally-raised beef, homemade veggie burgers and fresh hand-cut fries. The place is always packed, and the local farmers appreciate the support too.
- Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA — Not a business, but a beautiful and creative re-use of infrastructure in a small town. An old trolley bridge has been converted into a linear garden. The Bridge of Flowers has been tended by Shelburne Falls Women’s Club since 1929. The bridge is supported largely through donations and sees over 24,000 visitors every year. A spectacular sight to see with a vision of beautifying and connecting communities, the bridge features over 500 varieties of flowers, shrubs and vines.
- The People’s Pint, Greenfield, MA — A local craft brewery and restaurant serving fresh, organic, local food and delicious beers and sodas with a “commitment to simplicity and a reliance on self and the local community.” They often feature local musicians to enjoy with their hearty fare in a great atmosphere. They build relationships between local farmers, artists, and food-lovers every day.
- Jewell and the Beanstalk, Manchester, NH — This quaint eatery, located in the heart of a residential neighborhood, features yummy breakfast, organic and fair-trade coffee, homemade jellies, and is decorated with antiques and art from local artists. They even participate in the local farmer’s market in downtown Manchester.
- Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, Brattleboro, VT — A truly sustainable business! Sam’s is a family business that has been in operation since 1932 when it was mainly an Army & Navy Surplus store. They carry a huge array of brands and products for activities from running, to backpacking, to workwear; many of the companies are eco-friendly and socially responsible. They attribute their success to “willingness to adjust to the times, and understanding the ever-changing needs of their customers”. They’re even still in their original historic building in downtown Brattleboro. As a bonus they also offer free popcorn all day, every day!
- Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro, VT — A shareholder cooperative that sells natural, organic and local grocery items, produce and prepared dishes. With a strong commitment to their community they are now embarking on an expansion that will include a new energy efficient building and affordable housing above the store — a great example of mixed-use development. They also compost food, paper waste, and biodegradable flatware, in addition to maintaining a comprehensive recycling program in their cafe.