SCORE Honors Small Businesses With 'Better Mousetrap' Awards

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Business

Carol Hayward (center) of Talking Threads Custom Embroidery is flanked by a fellow award winner and State Senator Julian Cyr (right). COURTESY PHOTO

The Cape and Islands’ chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives, or SCORE, honored 20 small businesses in its annual awards breakfast last Thursday. Among the honorees were Puritan Clothing, Chatham Cookware, Brax Landing and Talking Threads Custom Embroidery.

SCORE, whose volunteers provide free mentoring for entrepreneurs, small business owners and non-profits, presented their “Better Mousetrap” awards to businesses nominated by local chambers of commerce. The Chatham Chamber of Commerce nominated Chatham Cookware, which is entering its 18th season serving breakfast and lunch in downtown Chatham. It’s owned by Rebecca Segura, who was inspired by her Swedish grandmother “who showed her that any time spent with friends or family over food was time well spent, and something to be nurtured and cherished,” the nomination reads.

Open daily from May 1 through Jan. 1 from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Chatham Cookware has become part of the fabric of downtown Chatham.

“They see the same faces for breakfast and then back again at lunch to grab sandwiches for their day at the beach or on the boat,” the nomination reads. At breakfast, a popular choice is the made-to-order breakfast sandwich served on a Portuguese roll; their afternoon menu features the “Salty Llama,” a house specialty tarragon chicken salad.

The Harwich Chamber of Commerce nominated Brax Landing, part of the Harwich Port waterfront for decades owned by Jeff Gomes and Tad Peavy since 2003.

The restaurant is proud to continue a tradition started by Gomes and his former partner Ron Leidner, serving full Thanksgiving dinners for free to local residents. “Brax Landing’s free Thanksgiving dinner has grown exponentially over the years. In recent years, they have served 800 turkey dinners at no charge to seniors, young families just starting out, people who have nowhere to go for the holiday, and those who cannot afford to cook their own holiday dinner,” according to the nomination form.

Gomes and Peavey both grew up in Harwich, and the community has been good to them as their business has grown, so the restaurateurs want to give back.

“It’s a collective team that comes together every year when the Brax staff and their families prepare the meal, wash the dishes, and spend time with the guests during the three seatings. The vendors and volunteers from the community join them in coming together to ensure that no one is alone for Thanksgiving,” the nomination reads.

Brax Landing is open year-round for lunch and dinner and remains a local favorite, known for its lobster rolls, fresh burgers and local seafood.

For its Better Mousetrap award, the Orleans Chamber of Commerce nominated Talking Threads Custom Embroidery, a businesses established by previous owners in Eastham in 1990, and moved to Orleans by Carol Hayward in 2009. Operating out of her home on Portanimicut Road, Talking Threads has expanded to include two additional machines and a heat press and has two part-time employees.

“Not having any background in business, she continually strives to learn new and better ways to run the business and to be successful,” the nomination reads. The business provides embroidery, silk screening, heat transfers and promotional products, and works with many local businesses like restaurants and contractors. “They have a large selection of both warm- and cold-weather garments and they love working with customers to help brand their businesses, and keep them looking professional,” the nomination reads.

Hayward finds most of her customers through local networking, and has belonged to both the Orleans and Eastham chambers of commerce, as well as Business Networking International. She’s also a member of the Home Builders and Remodelers of Cape Cod.

“She loves showing off her workspace to customers and they’re always amazed that a workshop such as this exists in Orleans,” the nomination reads.

Earning SCORE’s Small Business Champion award is Puritan Clothing, founded by Abraham Penn in 1919. The business is now in its third generation, with Rick and Jim Penn operating Puritan’s four locations around the Cape, including one in Chatham.

“The company lives by its mission statement: Earn the Relationship,” the nomination reads. Puritan also actively supports civic causes, with the Penns serving on the boards of various committees and boards of directors. The business also supports many community groups, like WE CAN, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Red Cross and Cape Cod Young Professionals.

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Twitter: @CCCAlanPollock