Greater Attleboro SWAT steps up for downtown business

Customers dine at NorthWorks on Saturday, April 24. During the week of April 20, members of Greater Attleboro Small Business SWAT team went to the restaurant as part of a support mission. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
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By Max

NorthWorks in North Attleborough’s downtown saw some heavy traffic last week, courtesy of the Greater Attleboro Small Business SWAT Team.

The group, which has a Facebook page with more than 3,100 members, chose the restaurant through an online poll, according to founder Geoff McGehee. Once a place has been selected, its members are encouraged to go there during a week-long period and post photos and share stories of the experience. The polls are created every few weeks and around five businesses are chosen for each one.

It’s something the group has been doing for weeks, choosing a different business in Attleboro, North Attleborough, Rehobeth, or Norton. McGehee said between 150 and 300 people participate in these week-long missions.

My hope is to drive $5,000-$15,000 of incremental business each week,” he said. “That’s generally the number I want to get out there.”

Anne Chambers, owner of Northworks, said the week was a great one, with many members of SWAT joining in. In a previous story, Chambers said that the pandemic lasting a year was completely unexpected, but people are positive, and she has optimism for the future.

Last week was exceptional….busy and smooth with some very sweet customers,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

It’s not the first time SWAT has been in North Attleborough. The group helped out Whisk and Paddle earlier this year, and are working with Matt Slobogan of The Preservation Framer for a Downtown North Week at the end of May. Not a block party, the event will include sidewalk sales, special deals, and live music all over the downtown area.

They hope to use my group and the downtown business page, among others, to drive a lot of attention to downtown to give another shot in the arm to those businesses,” said McGehee.

Slobogan said that the past year has been a hard one for local businesses. They’ve dealt with loss of staff and customers and business far below what they normally see. Recently, he and Derek Cameron, of 3805 Productions, launched a series of online posts featuring North’s local owners and sharing their stories of life after they reopened.

I want to keep them in people’s thoughts,” said Slobogan, owner of The Preservation Framer. “The restaurants, especially.”

Greater Attleboro SWAT was founded in early January. A retail SWAT group had been formed to save a coffeehouse in Norton from closure, and people suggested that another one be created to help more local businesses. McGehee has experience in online community support from running the Facebook page for the Attleboro Farmers Market, and formed the SWAT page with a friend.

After the first month, it had gotten a lot of attention,” he said. “A lot of people really interested in the group.”

Supporting North Attleborough’s businesses is somewhat personal for McGehee. He used to live in Pace Plaza, and said that downtown North “has a piece of my heart.”

That’s all we did, we went out all the time,” he said. “I selfishly want to keep these places going.”