Stormy weather kept many people at home over the weekend rather than at the chamber’s annual business showcase in Lake Cowichan, but organizers did not let this dampen their spirits.
On Oct. 15, the third annual Community Connections: A Business Showcase was held at Centennial Hall and saw 175 visitors over the course of the day. Guy Patten, a member of the event’s organizing committee, said the numbers were lower than they would have liked but this was due to the heavy rain and wind that persisted throughout the day.
“And there’s a couple of our vendors that have responsibilities that they can’t leave when it’s bad weather,” he said.
There were over 30 businesses and community organizations with booths at the showcase, occupying both levels of Centennial Hall. The majority of businesses represented were from the Lake area, and Patten said that’s one of the reasons events like the showcase are important.
“We’re a small community. The more we help each other, the better off we all are. Even if it’s just a meet-and-greet between the vendors that are here,” he said. “There are several businesses here that I didn’t even know existed until I came here today. So you get to know the new businesses. A lot of times you know the business but you don’t get to put a face to it. You can here.”
Sarah Williams and her husband Mark, who just moved with their three children to the Cowichan Valley less than two months ago, decided to participate in the event for that very reason. Saturday was their first time in Lake Cowichan, and the showcase was an opportunity to “come and explore and see what it’s like up here, meet some people and get our name out a little bit.”
Williams, a certified reflexologist, was giving foot massage demonstrations and also selling products by Young Living Essential Oils, for whom she is an independent distributor.
“It’s been awesome,” she said of the showcase. Her business is called Sole Purpose Reflexology and is accepting new clients.
While 2016 was the first time participating for Williams, other vendors have been attending since the beginning.
Cheryl Major, an independent consultant with Epicure, said the showcase is definitely a helpful exercise for her as someone who works out of her home selling Epicure’s cooking products.
“I come because I’m local. I’m in Lake Cowichan here. I have a lot of locals who come and pick up product from me,” she said. “It also introduces me to some of the new ones who might be coming through town.”
For artist Karola Schabernak, who is also based in Lake Cowichan, the chamber’s business showcase is less about moving product and more about making connections that can lead to future sales.
“I come because I get to meet clients face to face, and we get to interact, and they get to ask lots of questions, which I can answer for them. I also get sales after the event, not necessarily during,” she said.
Schabernak was selling her jewellery, and said the showcase was a way for her to do just that — let people see what she’s able to do.
“I think it’s important that the community knows what’s in their back yard,” she said of the event.