The Chamber of Commerce hosted the first annual Community Connections: A Business Showcase at Centennial Hall this Saturday. The showcase, free to attendees, had over 300 people attend. Organizers, exhibitors and attendees expressed their excitement about the event.
“Our members have really come out and done themselves justice. The turnout is absolutely fantastic,” said Katherine Worsley, coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce. Worsley was also part of the event planning committee.
The showcase gathered 40 participating the Chamber of Commerce, event sponsors, businesses and artisans from around the lake to meet and greet with attendees. There was also an exhibitor, Jocelyn Kiser, who came from Victoria to meet the community and introduce FloForm Countertops, which works closely with South Shore Cabinetry.
“We were invited by them and we’re really pleased to be here. It’s nice to get to know the community and surrounding businesses,” said Kiser. “I’m surprised at the turn out. It’s really great.”
Worsley mentioned that attendees came from Lake Cowichan and the surrounding communities, as well as a few from outside the Cowichan Valley and even Victoria.
“I think it was very good exposure for all the businesses,” said attendee Donna Roughly. “There are a lot of businesses I didn’t know were around. They all have their own unique qualities.”
Roughly, who recently moved to Lake Cowichan, also mentioned she thought it would have been nice to see more council members at the event so she could get to know them better.
“I thought it was very well put together,” said Cathy Craft, who Roughly mentioned is thinking of starting a business.
“I enjoyed meeting all the different vendors and meeting up with people I already knew,” said Craft.
“I thought it was very well laid out and very informative. I thought it was nice to have everything in one place, kind of like one-stop shopping,” said Norma Walker of Lake Cowichan.
Pauline Thompson, co-owner of Studio by Us, a multi-discipline art studio in Lake Cowichan, also felt the showcase was a success.
“I’m glad we put a booth in here. The studio’s been open for a year and a half now and people are going ‘oh, I didn’t know it was there.’ I’m hoping this will bring more people in,” said Thompson.
Two interesting audience participation features of the showcase were the passport and the People’s Choice Award.
Greeters gave attendees a passport as they walked in the door and if attendees got their passports stamped by at least 10 exhibitors, they could enter a draw for one of four prizes.
“It was an opportunity to talk face to face with some of the people that we wouldn’t have normally spoken to,” said Diane Jay about the passports.
The winner of the People’s Choice Award, voted on by attendees, was the Country Grocer display, complete with straw man, pumpkins and squash, straw bales and more. Country Grocer received the framed award and bragging rights as their prize.
“It’s always fabulous for being recognized for the community service we do,” said Janice Shand from Country Grocer. “We love getting into the community and being able to give back to the community that provides us all so much.”
The winners of the five prizes were Samantha Oliver, Al Corrigall, Gillian Needs, Del Mauro and Tracy Forrest.
This event kicks off Canada’s Small Business Week, Oct. 19-25.
“It will be an annual event so we hope to see more people out next year,” said Kathrine Worsley.
“I’d really love to see more artisans at next year’s event. They don’t have storefronts, so we’d love to help artisans out in that way too,” said Glenda Osborne-Burg, one of the main event organizers.
Ron McKenzie, president of the Chamber of Commerce, was also pleased with the event.
“Everything went well. It was a phenomenal turnout. I’m so happy,” said McKenzie. “It was a phenomenal way to start off Canadian Small Business Week.”