Franklin County Businesses Face Challenges, but Also Opportunity

When Lucy Damkoehler returned to Western Mass. after 20 years away, she opened a bakery in a town she knew well — Bernardston, to be exact, with its population of 2,000.

That was in 2018. Today, Sweet Lucy’s Bakeshop is thriving, demonstrating, like many other businesses already have, that it’s possible to succeed in a county whose 26 communities total around 71,000 residents — less than half of Springfield alone.

“It took off right away,” she said. “My prices were competitively high. I knew the cost of food was going up and the cost of labor was going up, so I priced it so I didn’t have to change my prices too often. But people didn’t complain about it, and I felt like it was doing pretty well.”

When COVID shut down much of the world, Damkoehler pivoted to a concept called Take & Bake Meals, which, at its height, was sending 50 to 60 meals out the door each day, which wound up expanding her reach and widening her exposure.

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