Ken at Charles Baldwin & Sons, West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1 June 2012

In the ever engaging pursuit to visit all 351 towns and cities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I’m always looking for an excuse to go to some place that I’d never been before.  In the first week of June, I went to my college reunion at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. As I was driving out there and going the length of the state, I thought I should use this opportunity to get off the highway and visit a new place.  A number of years ago, I hit a traffic jam right at the New York-Massachusetts border and got off the highway to go around it, and drove through West Stockbridge, but I didn’t stop. This time I was determined to actually see what was there.

I got into the town center and stopped, as I figured this was a good enough place to get out my lunch.  I walked around the block (there’s not too much here!) and saw most of the town with seems to be centered on the Housatonic River.  Right next to the river, I found the type of store that is so ideosyncratic that it could only be in a town like this.  Charles Baldwin and Sons is in an old mill building right next to the river, and it’s been in business since 1888.  Right now, it sells lots of little knick knacks and other things that would fascinate a 4 year old.  The most interesting thing about it is that they are famous for their vanilla extract.  They’ve been making it for over 100 years and a few years ago Martha Stewart mentioned them in her magazine and their sales went through the roof.  They still have the old fashion cash register, but they also sell on line.  In addition to vanilla extract, they also sell a lot of other different kinds.  I got root beer, pistachio, and black walnut.

Across the street is the hardware store that’s been around almost as long, and was founded by AW, the brother of Charles Baldwin.  They tend to stay loyal to what they do well here.

So, what skill do you have that your good at and you keep improving?

Inside Charles Baldwin & Sons, West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1 June 2012

Downtown West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1 June 2012

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