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Member Profile: Attorney Susan K. Howards

Susan Howards, a former college professor, was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1989.

attorney-susan-k-howardsHow long have you been in business in Brookline?

I’ve been an attorney in Brookline since 1998.

What inspired you to open your practice in Brookline?

I’ve lived in Brookline almost all my life and love it. I wanted to serve and be part of the Brookline community. I also wanted to walk to work.

What do you enjoy most about working in Brookline?

I most enjoy the people and sense of community.

What is your favorite part of your practice?

I am a criminal defense attorney with a focus on Domestic Violence. There is terrific support in the fight against domestic violence in Brookline. – I am a member of the Domestic Violence Roundtable, co-chair of the Jennifer A. Lynch Committee Against Domestic Violence, and a member of the Brookline Rotary Club.

Susan K. Howards

What’s one thing that you would like everyone to know about your practice?

My office represents clients nationwide.

What activities do you enjoy when you’re not working?

I enjoy yoga, theater, knitting, Pilates, and vigorous walking.



Bakers, and "the moral obligation to be cheerful..."

James Parker, contributing editor at The Atlantic, baked for years at Clear Flour Bread (a proud member of Brookline Local First!). Earlier this month he was asked by the New York Times: “As a writer, what influences you other than books?”

In answering, after discussing what he’s gleaned from drummers and comedians, he then harkened back to his days as a Brookline baker, saying:

Nothing is more nobly nonliterary than manual labor, and the years I spent baking at Clear Flour Bread in Brookline, Mass., were sky-blue. What a great job. Startlingly physical, to begin with, with plenty of hauling and swabbing and rushing around; the bakery itself was like a ship in a Patrick O’Brian novel, fierce and insular, microcultural, every moment accounted for, every inch of space pressed into service. You sweated and clanked, and the flour flew up in slow clouds, until everyone’s face had received a kind of aristocratic powdering. Clear Flour BreadThe rewards were enormous: the fine, fuse-like crackle of a rack full of handsome brittle baguettes, which you have just pulled out of the oven — that’s a beautiful sound. Television’s “Marquee Moon” coming out of the bakery boombox at 1 in the morning, with your muscles so warmed up they seem to act as vibrational channels for the music — that too is a beautiful sound. 

From my fellow bakers, those yeasty intellectuals, I learned about industry and cohesion and the moral obligation to be cheerful. The last lesson was the most important, and extended out of the bakery and into life. If you’re depressed, maimed, crocked in some way, fair enough — let us know. But if not, then in the name of humanity stop moaning. Keep a lightness about you, a readiness. Preserve the digestions of your co-workers; spare them your mutterings and vibings. It’s highly nonliterary, but there we are: Be nice.

On the cusp we are of the annual, ritual holiday craziness. In close quarters, with almost no time to spare, or to ourselves for the next month+, we would all do well to remember the lesson shared by Mr. Parker and learned at Clear Flour… Be cheerful, all!



Member Profile: The Business Resource Guy's Richard Hassman

Richard Hassman has been The Business Resource Guy in Brookline for the past year and a half, after seven years at it in Northern California. He has had local clients for over five years, having started with ImprovBoston in 2009—and they’ve been his client ever since.

Richard Hassman

What inspired you to become The Business Resource Guy?

I was selling POS (point of sale) systems to just restaurants when I heard about credit card processing as a business service. I immediately was drawn to it because of two things – a) I could work with almost any type of business from non-profit organizations to manufacturer supply houses to retail boutiques to restaurants, etc. and b) one of the primary functions of what I do is lowering a fee that business owners can’t avoid, all while providing them better advice and service than they were receiving before they starting working with me.

What do you enjoy most about working in Brookline? 

Brookline is such a small town. The level of relationships between the residents and local businesses is like nowhere else I have ever lived. I love the way that folks are just plain folks here in Brookline, and really are interested in what you have to offer them. And there are so many opportunities to partner up with others and be of service to the community, on both a commercial and a civic level.

What is your own favorite product or service among those that you offer? 

My favorite service offering amongst credit card processing, POS systems, gift and loyalty programs, e-commerce gateways, and working capital programs is actually the credit card processing. My reasoning is that accepting credit cards and having to pay fees for the “privilege” of doing so affects the bottom line of every business that does so. If I can help a business owner keep more of their hard-earned money in their own pocket at the end of every month, then I have done them a great service. And it gives me great joy to do so.


Richard HassmanWhat’s one thing that you want everyone to know about The Business Resource Guy? 

With over 9 years experience, I have collected a lot of wisdom that I love to share with business owners.

The Business Resource Guy was founded on the principle that I can match business owners with the resources that they most need to run their business successfully. From merchant services credit card processing to working capital programs, I work very hard to have a deep collection of vendors that are the best in their class and I feel confident introducing them to my business customers.

What’s one fact about The Business Resource Guy that you think might surprise people?

People are often surprised that I have the exact same costs as the business banks I compete with. And that level playing field gives me the advantage because I can service my customers with more personal care than the banks and out of state processors can.

The Business Resource Guy

What activities do you enjoy when you’re not working? 

Skiing and traveling are not just activities I enjoy when not working; they are obsessions. My girlfriend and I incorporate travel into our schedules so that we can still work and service our careers all while exploring the world. If there is a ski slope nearby, well, all the better.



Member Profile: Coolidge Corner Yoga's Tatyana Souza

Tatyana Souza - Balance

Can you do this? :-)

Tatyana Souza and her husband David opened Coolidge Corner Yoga at 1297 Beacon Street in September 2013. We asked Tatyana some questions about herself and her business to help us and our Brookline neighbors get to know her and CCY a bit better:

What inspired you to open Coolidge Corner Yoga?

I am passionate about sharing the practice of yoga with my local community and feel that everyone can benefit from the practice. This practice not only yields the physical benefits of strength, pliability, and balance, but also yields mental benefits as well. In the busy lives of many in our community, yoga can provide exercise as well as mental relaxation so that you can be a better parent, spouse, neighbor and friend.

What do you enjoy most about working in Brookline?

I love seeing all my fellow Brookline residents, parents, and friends in the studio. The wide age range coming through our doors has been amazing to observe. I also love how receptive our community has been to adding yoga to their weekly routine.

What is your own favorite product or service among those that you offer?

My favorite yoga offering has been our Yoga FUNdamentals and Gentle Yoga classes. These two classes offer beginner yogis as well as those looking to introduce movement into their life gently an opportunity to dive into the world of yoga in a welcoming, fun, and encouraging environment. These classes have been thriving, and I am so proud to have so many members of our community start and maintain their practice of yoga at CCY.

Coolidge Corner Yoga Class

What’s one thing that you want everyone to know about Coolidge Corner Yoga?

CCY offers classes for everybody and every age in our community, starting from prenatal yoga, mommy and baby yoga, kids yoga and all the way up through gentle and yin yoga.

What’s one fact about Coolidge Corner Yoga that you think might surprise people?

People are often surprised by how spacious, cozy, and welcoming our yoga studio is. We have about 4000 square feet of space on the 2nd floor overlooking Beacon Street, including lounge space and an area to have some tea and relax.

Coolidge Corner Yoga

What activities do you enjoy when you’re not working?

Running my own business has been quite exciting and challenging. On my days off I really relish spending time with my two boys and husband either outdoors at the parks or with family friends.



Worthwhile read: Globe article on the rescue of the Coolidge

The Coolidge and the Flag

An article in today’s Boston Globe pulls back the curtain a bit on how the Coolidge Corner Theatre was saved from demolition and who was behind the effort that did so.

This worthwhile read is a great affirmation of collaboration and community—and it happened in our town!



Domestic Violence Awareness Week

As awkward as it sounds, professional football scandals have in recent weeks done an excellent job of raising awareness of domestic violence. It’s now part of mainstream conversation. We hope and believe this elevated awareness will lower the incidence of domestic violence.

Steps to Success in Brookline has is certainly doing its part to help increase awareness! They’re presenting Domestic Violence Awareness Week with a series of events from October 6 though October 11th. Please see below:







To learn more about Steps to Success and their important work, visit their website and follow them on Facebook!



Aborn True Value Hardware Turns 60

Aborn True Value

Pablo Monroy, Irene Monroy, and José Monroy, L-R — and of course, Lexi, the store mascot!


Originally founded as a locksmith and Raleigh Bike dealership in 1954 by Jerry Druker, Aborn True Value has quadrupled in size and remains a locally owned business at 438 Harvard St. (at JFK Crossing) in Brookline.   It is now owned by Jose and Irene Monroy making them the fourth family to run the shop.

When it first opened it was known as Aaborn Lock. This made up name, was to ensure first listing in the Yellow Pages under the locksmith heading. According to Mr. Druker’s granddaughter Rachel, one of his prime accounts was Arthur Fiedler of Boston Pops fame. They would have long conversations about their common interest as fire trucks buffs.

Around 1970, Dave Troiano was brought in as a locksmith and within a few years became the business owner. Dave, his brother Bob and sister in law Grace continued to grow the business taking over additional store fronts. While Dave broke off to set up his separate locksmith business, Bob and Grace operated until 1995.

Jerry Katz and Jose Monroy worked together at Righter’s Hardware in Dorchester. Due to an ownership change, Jerry was urged by the representative from True Value to purchase his own store. As luck would have it, Aborn was available. With the proviso that he would come aboard as manager, Jose joined Jerry in totally revamping the store. This led to huge sale increases and a reputation as the neighborhood store that had what you needed, along with sage advice on how to complete your project. During that time Jerry brought in and sold antique tube type radios, wind up phonographs, juke boxes and pinball machines.

Itching to have his own store, Jose made the transition to store owner in 2008. Joined by his wife and son, Pablo, they spearheaded Aborn to a new level. A size increase of an additional 50% space in 2013 has ensured them a bright future. Roaming down the aisles of the brightly lit and friendly store, you will find everything from paint, electrical, plumbing, cleaning supplies, housewares and vacuums and a gazillion nuts, bolts and related hardware items. They also do repairs of screens, windows, lamps, are one of the few places that can sharpen a hand powered push mower and yes they still make keys!

Shopping locally at a business that really cares, used to be the norm, today it still is at Aborn True Value.



2014 Independent Business Survey

The following summary extract from the 2014 Independent Business Survey summarizes the fundamental reason we exist as an organization:

“The Local First movement is influencing buying habits. A large majority of businesses located in cities with an active Local First campaign reported that the initiatives had brought in new customers and/or generated other specific benefits. These businesses experienced revenue growth of 7.0% in 2013, compared to 2.3% for those in places without such an initiative.”


ilsrlogoPublished in February 2014 by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, this survey is the 7th annual of its kind conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a forty year old nonprofit with the following mission: “To provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development.”

Here are the Key Findings from the 2014 Survey:

The 2014 Independent Business Survey gathered data from 2,602 independent, locally owned businesses across all 50 states. A little over half of the respondents are retailers and the remainder encompass a wide variety of industries. Among the survey’s key findings:

Sales Growth — Independent businesses reported revenue growth of 5.3% on average in 2013.

Holiday Sales — The retailers surveyed experienced a 1.4% increase in same-store holiday sales, which
was comparable and, in some cases, superior to the holiday sales results of competing chains.

Buy Local — The Local First movement is influencing buying habits. A large majority of businesses located in cities with an active Local First campaign reported that the initiatives had brought in new customers and/or generated other specific benefits. These businesses experienced revenue growth of 7.0% in 2013, compared to 2.3% for those in places without such an initiative.

Biggest Challenges — Competition from large internet companies was rated as the biggest challenge facing independent businesses, particularly among retailers, 69% of whom ranked it as a very or extremely significant challenge. Other leading concerns include supplier pricing that favors big competitors, high costs for health insurance, and escalating commercial rents.

Internet Sales Tax — More than three-quarters of independent retailers said that the fact that many online companies are not required to collect sales tax had negatively impacted their sales, with 41% describing the level of impact on their sales as “significant.”

Access to Credit — The survey found that access to credit is a major barrier impeding expansion for a sizable minority of independent businesses. While only one-third of the businesses surveyed applied for a bank loan in the last two years, of those that did seek financing, 42% either failed to obtain a loan or received a loan for less than the amount they needed.

Policy Priorities — Independent businesses ranked the following as their top policy priorities: eliminating public subsidies for big companies, capping credit card swipe fees, lowering taxes, and passing legislation to extend sales tax collection to large online retailers.

We encourage you to CLICK HERE to read the complete survey.

CLICK HERE to learn all about the Institute for Local Self Reliance and to explore the depth and breadth of their important work.

Graphing the impact of Local First Initiatives on Member Businesses




Ethel Weiss Week




WHEREAS      August 23, 2014 marks Ethel Weiss’s 100th Birthday

WHEREAS      Since January, 1939, Ethel Weiss and Irving’s Toy and Card Shop have served, mentored, and befriended generations of Brookline young people

WHEREAS      Brookline Local First is a network of locally-owned, independent businesses, whose mission is to build a strong local economy and vibrant community by educating residents and local government leaders about the significant environmental, economic, and cultural benefits of doing business with locally-owned, independent businesses.

WHEREAS      Ethel Weiss’s contributions to our community so inspire all local, independent Brookline businesses, we unanimously agreed an image reminiscent of Irving’s Toy and Card Shop would adorn the Brookline Local First logo, so all Brookline Local Independent Businesses can aspire to follow Ethel’s example of love and dedication to their customers.

WHEREAS      Ethel Weiss’s achievements and life lessons deserve and need to be celebrated

IT IS RESOLVED that Brookline Local First proclaims August 25 through September 1, 2014…

Ethel Weiss Week



Brookline's 2014 Best-of-Boston Winners

Best of Boston 2014The much-ballyhooed annual Best-of-Boston issue from Boston Magazine is out and Brookline is very well represented!

Led by Brookline Local First Members Brookline Booksmith, The Children’s Bookshop, Clear Flour Bread, and Magic Beans, there were (your author might have missed a winner or two combing through his hard copy of the issue!) at least eleven winners from Brookline!

In addition to the four BLF member-winners above, congratulations are also due to Alton Place Shoe Repair, Bonnie’s Boutique, Clover, Electrolysis and Skin Care Clinic, Tim Maslow of Ribelle, Vizio Optic, and Wulf’s Seafood. We can also offer up this meaningless but entertaining statistic: this group from Brookline features one winner from Alton Place, two from Beacon Street, six from Harvard Street, one from Thorndike Street, and one from Washington Street.

Bravo to all of the winners!