There are new businesses opening on Main street Vineyard Haven, but the town business association may be losing steam. Tisbury business association president Dawn Braasch announced this week that she is stepping down from her position, and said if a replacement cannot be found the organization may fold.
“I am sending this notice to let you know that I am withdrawing as president of the TBA. I had hoped someone else on the board would come forward to take the reins of the association, but no one has,” said Ms. Braasch in an email to the association sent Oct. 30. “If no one comes forward, I will have no choice but to dissolve the association as of Nov. 30,” she wrote.
The association is composed of about 80 business owners, managers and Tisbury residents who work to sustain a vital business environment in the town.
Ms. Braasch is the owner of the Bunch of Grapes bookstore. She took over as president of the business association last year when Pat Gregory, the owner of Educomp, stepped down.
“I thought it was important and I still do,” said Ms. Braasch told the Gazette on Tuesday. “It’s a group of business owners who really want Tisbury to thrive. The goal is to enhance the quality of life for business here in Vineyard Haven.”
She said the association mainly wanted to organize events to invite more customers into downtown, such as the two summer art strolls on Main Street and the Columbus day weekend sidewalk sale.
But she said the administrative duties that came with the presidency were difficult to balance with her own business and personal life.
“We are all stretched in so many different ways and have big jobs,” she said. “Nobody understands that better than I do.”
Ms. Braasch said she still wants to support and be part of the association if it continues to exist.
Kerry Quinlan-Potter, owner of The Collection and an association board member, said she was disappointed and discouraged at the apparent waning interest in the association.
“There was not a tremendous amount of enthusiasm or good reception to the association,” she said. “It’s really frustrating . . . I’m not sure why or what the missing link is, but we are struggling.”
In the past the association has organized a Halloween parade down Main street and a Christmas celebration in town, but Ms. Braasch said neither will take place this year.
In her email Ms. Braasch urged members of the association to continue the tradition of handing out candy to children on Halloween. “If parents want to parade down Main street that’s great, but they’ll have to organize it themselves,” Ms. Braasch wrote. “There will be no Christmas in Vineyard Haven organized by the TBA unless someone comes forward to take over the position and organize the event.”
Ms. Quinlan-Potter moved into her Main street business last spring and had planned to stay open year-round, but closed her shop in the middle of February due to low sales. This year she is taking her merchandise to a store in Newburyport for the winter and will re-open in Vineyard Haven in the spring.
“We want people to know we are here and have all these unique, special attractions,” said Ms. Quinlan-Potter. “But it’s going to take a little more organization and dedication.”