With five new businesses open, Brooks celebrates its rebirth
Brooks — Five new businesses opened in Brooks over the last few months and the town celebrated with grand-opening ceremonies for all of them on the same day.
Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 16, for new businesses: Gibbs Family Hardware Store, The Marsh River Co-op, Motley Cycle & Repair, Flip Flop Hair Salon and Mobile Entertainment Solutions, and for J.P. Wentworth General Store's new 24-hour gas pumps.
During the celebrations, the public was treated to special deals, giveaways, live music, a barbecue and even yoga lessons. A crowd of more than 100 moved from business to business for the first four openings, 15 minutes apart.
In the evening, Holly Parker showcased her DJing service during her own ribbon-cutting ceremony for Mobile Entertainment Solutions, set on the Town Hall steps, and many residents danced in the street and parking area between the Town Hall and fire station. The celebrations concluded at sunset with a fireworks display.
"It is incredible and noteworthy that we welcomed all these new businesses in the last few months," said Town Clerk Jane McLaughlin. "I call it Brooks' resurrection."
Brooks was once a town of several factories and mills that had manufactured clothing, cheese, shingles, lumber and barrels, and the Maine Central Railroad had a station in the town, according to an account by J. Varney in "A Gazeteer of the State of Maine," published in 1886.
In 2006, Brooks resident Delmont Clark told a reporter with All Maine Matters that he had witnessed a decline in the farming, apple, and dairy industries that once were strong in the town. "It doesn't leave people with much to do," he said at the time.
But for one reason or another, business in the town is picking up again. Different factors led to each new business opening when it did, and they all happened to come together this year.
Parker started her DJing business after returning in July from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, where she served with the 133rd Engineers as a human resource specialist. She decided to use some of the money she made during her deployment to purchase music equipment.
"The idea to start the new business was born out of my experience in Afghanistan," she said, "because music is what kept me sane over there."
Cody Tibbetts opened Motley Cycle & Repair earlier this summer after he completed a nine-month course over the winter to fine-tune his motorcycle repair skills.
Gibbs Family Hardware occupies a new building on Veteran's Highway, Brooks' main road. Robert Gibbs, who owns Buxton Service Inc. in Monroe, started the business with his son Kyle, and Robert's daughter Heidi Gibbs is store manager.
Kyle Gibbs said Brooks' former hardware store, Paul's Hardware, was sold a few years ago to a couple who subsequently went out of business. The Gibbs family saw a need for a new hardware store and started building one in May, just up the road from Paul's.
The town coordinated the ribbon-cutting ceremonies around the planned completion of the new hardware store Aug. 8.
After a foreclosure on Paul's Hardware building, a local group acquired it and began the Marsh River Co-Op there.
J. P. Wentworth General Store owners John and Rhonda Wentworth have been in the process of upgrading their gas station for some time. They previously replaced the gas tanks and just recently replaced the old gas pumps with modern, 24-hour pay-at-the-pump stations.
"It was all coincidental that it all happened at the same time here," Wentworth Family Store Assistant Manager Maureen Tozier said of the simultaneous openings and upgrade.
At the Town Hall Saturday evening, Clerk Jane McLaughlin said, "It is nice to see activity, life and movement in town."