Tabatha Black: For the Love of Business
In an effort to increase cooperation and advocate for the needs of business owners in town, Tabatha Black started a networking group that seeks to make its presence felt in Westbrook.
Recently Tabatha, a business owner in downtown Westbrook, wanted to spruce up the front of her business. Tabatha contacted her landlord to get started on some of the modifications and eventually ended up in the town’s land use office to see what else could be done. While talking about what the town wants to do to revitalize the town center, Tabatha says Town Planner Peter Gillespie mentioned something that caught her attention.
“Peter mentioned that while some groups like the beach communities have a networking group, there really isn’t one for the business owners in town. So I took that idea, and I ran with it,” Tabatha says.
Last November, Tabatha started the Westbrook Merchants, a networking group for Westbrook business owners.
“I went and knocked on a lot of doors, and right now, we’ve got 12 to 15 members, and we’re looking for more,” Tabatha says.
The group meets on the third Thursday of every month at the Highliner III restaurant in Westbrook at 7 p.m.
“So far, we’ve had more members at every meeting,” Tabatha says excitedly.
According to the mission statement from the group, “Our mission is to increase the local business involvement within the town of Westbrook by providing resources and opportunities for business to thrive.”
“Our vision is to become the voice that represents small business in Westbrook by bridging the gap of communication amongst other local committees and the town, to bring an increase in development and enhancement to our community and its residences,” the statement continues.
Tabatha says that a website for the group will hopefully be launched soon, but for now, interested business owners can contact the group by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I think that businesses supporting businesses is great. It’s something that can be used to move forward and maybe help each other get what we need,” Tabatha explains. For example, Tabatha says that it can be a way for businesses to share tips and tricks to get through slow months or find related businesses that they can refer customers to. “Basically, it’s a way for businesses to support each other,” Tabatha sums up.
While Tabatha says the goal for the merchants’ group right now is expanding membership, the group is also hoping to launch a recurring town-wide event in the fall tentatively called “First Wednesdays.”
Tabatha says the event would work by having businesses in town offer special promotions on the first Wednesday of every month. That, combined with organized fun events on the Town Green like a bounce house or music, for example, would bring people — and potential customers — into Westbrook.
“We’d like to see every business involved, not just the ones by the Green. People don’t realize it, but we have really diverse types of business in town, and it would be great to showcase that. It’s something to drive business into town,” Tabatha says.
Driving business to town is something that is important to Tabatha because she is a business owner in town herself. She is a licensed massage therapist and the owner of 640 Massage Therapies at 16 CT-153 in Westbrook. Tabatha says she started the business seven years ago.
“I was looking for a place that was in between clients I had at the time, and the central location was perfect,” Tabatha says of coming to Westbrook with her business. The business offers massages, skincare, waxing, nutrition, acupuncture, and energy work services.
Volunteering in town is not something Tabatha originally saw herself doing.
“It was never something I intended to do. Community volunteering was something important to me, but I didn’t realize how important,” Tabatha says.
Initially, Tabatha was spurred to get more involved with the town when she successfully pursued a zoning regulation change that made different signage legal in the town center.
“We’ve participated with the tree lighting in the past and make cookies to hand out for that,” Tabatha adds.
Tabatha grew up in Maine, but since coming to Westbrook, she’s become fond of the town and its charms.
“I love the shoreline in general, and I love that it’s a small community, but it’s got a big heart,” Tabatha says.
She’s also learned about the town’s history, which she calls “fascinating.”
In her spare time, Tabatha can be found hiking, cooking, reading, or spending time with her dog.