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Lindsay Cavanaugh of Mahaiwe Tent displays a BerkShares note. Photo courtesy Schumacher Center for a New Economics

BerkShares Business of the Month: Mahaiwe Tent

By Saturday, Aug 24, 2019 Trade and Commerce

Great Barrington — From the beautiful scenery and the accessibility of locally grown fruits, vegetables and flowers to the cultural amenities available to visitors, it’s no wonder that couples flock to the Berkshires with their friends and family to celebrate the best day of their life. With the help of event rental business Mahaiwe Tent, couples and their guests can appreciate the natural splendor of outdoor venues like Chesterwood, Hilltop Orchards or a family friend’s backyard by keeping the party going all night long under a clear top tent.

The 33-year-old company started in Tom and Lauren Cavanaugh’s living room. In 1986, the young couple figured that the best way to make a living in the Berkshires was to start their own business. Working as a bartender and part-time caterer at 20 Railroad, Lauren saw the business opportunity for a rental company to service the emerging event industry. When inventory exceeded the capacity of their garage, Lauren and Tom moved the business down the road to its current location on Humphrey Street.

Mahaiwe Tent offers much more than tents. In the absence of a wedding planner, an event rental business like Mahaiwe Tent is the next best thing. Second-generation owner Lindsay Cavanaugh knows where to source the dreamiest floral arrangements, the hippest DJs, the most reliable caterers, the safest transportation service, the most flattering photographers, the cleanest portable toilets and the best spirits to serve at your bar.

Heir to her parents’ legacy, Lindsay has been tasked with bringing the tent business into the 21st century. A graduate of the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst by way of Berkshire Community College, to Lindsay, being business savvy means constantly updating social media, maintaining membership in local chambers of commerce, attending networking events and trade shows, and keeping ahead of trends. Most recently, Lindsay brokered a deal to offer “the Yard Bar,” a mobile pub with seating for 40 people. It’s this kind of competitive advantage that gives Mahaiwe Tent a leg up against other event rental companies in the region.

While weddings make up the majority of Mahaiwe Tent’s business, Lindsay says they’re proud to help produce the annual galas of so many local nonprofits that enrich the Berkshires. It’s the connection to other local businesses that make it possible for Mahaiwe Tent to accept BerkShares. The event industry is naturally hyper-local — once a location is identified, it’s the service providers and people local to the region that bring it all together. There’s a great community and Berkshire vendors are some of the best in the industry.

Like her parents, Lindsay sees her participation in the family business as her ticket to remaining in the Berkshires. Though she recognizes the privilege of her position, she hopes to see her peers move back to the area and bring their own skills and perspectives to help grow the economy. Until then, Lindsay will continue setting an example for other young people that it is possible to make a viable living here and benefit from “the beautiful landscape and Berkshire identity.”


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