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Small businesses are thriving in Tomball

New Homes for Sale in Tomball

In a recent article by Chron.com, it was reported that a combination of surging local economy and new festivals has helped Main Street. 

For many years, the likelihood that a small business could survive in Tomball for very long wasn't good. But in recent years, the surge in the local economy has fostered a desire for more and more small businesses to stake their claim to entrepreneurship in downtown Tomball.

"We are like Main Street USA," said Bruce Hillegeist, president of the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce. "There is something for everyone here in Tomball, and I'd say everyone has a place."

From the mid-1980s until the late-2000s, that strip of FM 2920, known to locals as Main Street, was little more than a quaint collection of antique shops, that as Hillegeist recalled, "would close about as fast as they would open."

"There were a lot of vacant places around Main Street, but even in those times, the dream was for Tomball to be a destination location," he said.

It was a combination of several events in 2011 that ignited the spark which spawned a dozen small businesses in downtown Tomball.

So on a whim, she rented space on Commerce Street, and launched Cisco's Salsa Company.

The cuisine, which has a southern California flavor, quickly became the place to go for margaritas, Mexican food, and live music on Friday and Saturday night.

"They have really made an impact to downtown, and driven a lot of the growth and gotten people excited about the area," said Tomball Mayor Gretchen Fagan, who last month addressed the growing number of Mom and Pop businesses in downtown Tomball.

The same time Cisco's was opening its doors, the city was in the midst of hiring Mike Baxter as the first marketing director in the city's history.

Baxter, who honed his talents at the former Hanna-Barbera Land, and Trader's Village, began the task of transforming Tomball into a tourist destination.

The change began with the slogan, "Tomball is Texan for Fun," followed by the creation of mascot Rusty Rails, and the addition of local monthly festivals, such as the Rails and Trails Mudbug Festival, the Tomball Bluegrass Festival, and Beetles, Brew and Barbecue, not to mention the weekend Farmer's Market that is held each Saturday morning.

"The whole approach was to create a program based on the start-up of a theme park" he said. "Theme parks have rides and attractions. Well, the festivals, the restaurants, the shops; those are our rides and attractions, so we promote them that way."

The festivals helped put Tomball on the map and increased the presence of people who began to see the town as a weekend tourist destination.

As a result, new businesses began to spout within the Tomball community.

Between 2011 and 2014, nearly a dozen businesses were launched in downtown, with many of them centered in the downtown depot area.

In 2013, The Empty Glass wine bar opened, and not long afterward, Wilson purchased 1950s style eatery Nonnies', which is next door.

Between 2013 and 2015, other businesses began to open their doors, including Brautigams Bar and Grill, Lunch Ladies Café and Catering, Pretzels Pleaze, Tejas Chocolates, German-style restaurant LandHaus Nikodemus and Vickie B's Boutique.

Britt Heald, who owns Vickie B's with her daughter Madison, has entrepreneurship in her blood.

In the late 1970s, she, her parents and her sister owned and operated Metropolitan Publishing, which helped create a streak of independence that Britt says she passed to her daughter.

"I think when you grow up with parents like we did, there is just this natural entrepreneurship that kind of gets ingrained in you," she said.

Britt, who had worked in the family business for more than 30 years, was considering a change by the time her daughter had reached her senior year in high school.

Madison Heald, who graduated from Magnolia High School in 2014, has had her sights set on a career in the fashion world since she was in junior high school.

One night, she and her mom sat down and began to talk about the future.

Madison, on the other hand, was learning fashion design and merchandising at the Art Institute of Houston, but there were things mom could still teach her about having her own business.

In October, the mother-daughter team opened the boutique at 213 West Main St., a block from the depot.

"It's either something you have, or you don't," Britt said. "You've got to be able to take a risk, roll the dice and be OK with the bumps that you'll feel along the way. I am extremely comfortable being an independent business owner."

 

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