For the past few months, Independent We Stand, a movement that exists to support independent businesses, has held its seventh annual Independent Small Business of the Year award, or Indie Award contest. The contest is designed to help recognize the top locally owned businesses that have gone above and beyond to deliver great customer service and community support.
Throughout the contest, Carr Hardware committed to donating its $5,000 cash award to a park revitalization project in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, home to the store’s main branch. The staff at the four Berkshires locations in Massachusetts and two in Northern Connecticut take pride in servicing the needs of their neighbors.
“This year’s winner exhibits the spirit of what makes independent businesses special—a focus on both customer service and the community,” Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand says. “Carr Hardware garnered support through its mission to serve customers and the community by choosing a pay-it-forward approach with the prize winnings. The $5,000 cash prize will help pay for a splash pad at a community park. It’s that type of local involvement and dedication we see from our nominees each year across the country. This award helps us recognize and reinforce those efforts.”
Family-owned and -operated since 1928, Carr Hardware was originally founded by Sam Carr and purchased by the Raser family in 1962. Marshall Raser and his son Bart still handle business operations. With more than 100 employees, each location prides itself on offering years of specialty experience.
Carr Hardware serves homeowners, contractors, commercial customers, institutions and government agencies throughout the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and surrounding areas through their stores.
The business also supports many organizations including Rotary Club, Berkshire Health Systems, Pittsfield Economic Redevelopment Commission (PERC), multiple chambers of commerce, Downtown Pittsfield Association, Boys & Girls Club, Berkshire Humane Society, Volunteer Dogs for the Blind and the Vocational & Technical Scholarship Fund.
In addition, employees are encouraged to volunteer in their communities and have served on volunteer fire departments and coached local sports teams. Most recently, through product and cash donations, Carr Hardware provided its customers with a platform to support hurricane relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
“Our community supports us, and we support them. We saw that come full circle with our hurricane relief efforts for Houston earlier this year,” Bart Raser, co-owner of Carr Hardware says. “Now, to see the support of our customers lead to an award like this, it is humbling and even more meaningful. It’s nice to know we live in a community that appreciates the value and impact of independent small businesses. Shopping local is part of our culture. It’s how we build community.”
The 10 submissions that received the highest number of public votes online were deemed finalists. The winner of “The Indie” was chosen by a panel of contest judges.