When the weather is nice, Tad Thomas walks all day long. As the founder and partner at Thomas Law Offices in Norton Commons, he described his favorite kind of day there. “I can walk from my house to get my morning coffee at the coffee shop, walk to the office and then walk to one of three or four places for lunch. I go back to the office and at the end of the day walk to Commonwealth Tap and have drinks with friends, walk somewhere for dinner with my wife and then walk home.” Thomas said that is one of his favorite aspects of living in a village community like Norton Commons: a real sense of neighborhood walkability.
Like many small business owners at Norton Commons, Thomas is also a resident, building a home there in 2015 and relocating his law firm there in the summer of 2016.
“The idea of not having to commute and being able to walk to my office had a great deal of appeal and once I got here, it exceeded my expectations.” What Thomas found was a robust network for entrepreneurs. “So much of being an entrepreneur is knowing other people who have already been through the same growing pains as you,” said Thomas.
“Just today I have talked to three different small business owners about differences and similarities in our industry. Being exposed to and learning from this neighborhood of residents – many of whom own their own businesses – helps you grow your own business,” he said.
Thomas started a second company, Legal Insites, in May 2016, which provides digital marketing services for law firms. Since it was outside the scope of what he had done in the past, he was able to rely on friends in the neighborhood with more expertise in the tech industry.
The opportunity to build strong friendships with clients and other small business owners at Norton Commons has really made a difference for Stephen Freeman, CPA and owner of Freeman and Associates PSC, an accounting firm. Freeman and friends from the community have traveled together to New York City, Italy and even Cuba. “It’s been so much fun, and it is directly as result of living here in Norton Commons,” said Freeman.
With more than 40 years as a CPA, Freeman and his family built their house in 2011 and opened the accounting office in 2012. “People here want to embrace any of the businesses that open up. They really want to see local businesses succeed.”
Freeman also noted that the walkable style of Norton Commons gives it a European feel. “People can live and work in a small community and have a lot of what they need right there handy,” he said. “The continual growth of Norton Commons means growing opportunities for business owners. If you want to be part of a vibrant, exciting community that’s growing, it’s the place to be.”
Rebecca Blackburn, owner of Pet Station Salon & Boutique, a grooming business, said moving to Norton Commons was a smart move because of that growing opportunity. As one of the first 30 residents in Norton Commons, her business has grown as the community grew. Ten years ago, Pet Station started with one groomer but now has four.
“As a resident, we were intrigued by the concept of Norton Commons, and within months of living here we were hooked; within a year we decided to open our own business,” said Blackburn. “There were so many dogs, and being able to walk your dog to get groomed, getting exercise in and grooming for the day – it’s a two-for-one combo,” she said.
Blackburn said she enjoys the way she can nurture client relationships and friendships due to the village design of Norton Commons. “Commonwealth Tap is right across the street from us and we see customers outside or walking by enjoying the neighborhood. That’s what makes Norton Commons a place where you want to build and grow. It already feels like a community.”
Blackburn, Freeman and Thomas all agree the close-knit neighborhood is a great place where residents and business owners can live, work and play all in the same place.
“They do a great job promoting Norton Commons,” said Thomas. “The property looks great; the resident business group is very active and informative. They make it nice not only to be a resident here, but to be a business owner.”