Local businesses stressed by the downtrodden economy got a boost in morale and possibly their bottom line last weekend, when a record number of visitors attended the annual business showcase.
Organizers say at least 945 adults shelled out a dollar to attend the Saturday show with a few hundred children attending free. Another 150 attended Friday night’s mixer and 260 attended Sunday’s showcase.
Chamber Manager John Stanton said the location of this year’s showcase, in the former space of Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber Company, made all the difference.
With its proximity to Walmart and the intersection of Highways 87 and 260, more people dropped by unplanned.
In addition, charging an admission appeared to give the event more value to visitors.
“It adds value to something like this,” Stanton said. “If we get something for free, we don’t value it as much.”
At first, Stanton said he was nervous to charge even a dollar, fearing it might keep cash-strapped residents away.
For the last five years, the cost to purchase a booth has remained steady at $200 for chamber members and $400 for non-members.
It costs between $8,000 and $10,000 and an “incalculable number of hours” to set up the showcase, Stanton said. Luckily, this year, Payson PAYS and Sunshine Cleaning cleaned up the former lumberyard for free.
Angela Lyons, director of admissions and marketing at Rim Country Health and Retirement Community, said she was pleased with the turnout and the opportunity to support the town. As a contributing sponsor, the Rim Country Health and Retirement Community donated $500.
Purchasing a booth gave her an opportunity to meet residents unfamiliar with their services and “put a face to the place.”
Leanne Pocalun, owner of Black and Tan Tales, LLC, said the exposure was wonderful.
Pocalun estimated 90 percent of showcase visitors said they had never heard of Black and Tan Tales even though the store opened in the Safeway shopping center in October. With a glittery array of accessories for sale, Pocalun attracted many curious visitors.
Prudential Realtor Yvonne Pledger said since she was new to the area, establishing herself in the community was crucial. After Saturday’s busy show, Pledger said she had several contacts.
Edward Jones financial adviser Scott Flake said this year’s showcase trumped shows from years past.
“It is one of the better ones,” he said.
With many trades hard hit by the economy in the last year, Stanton said his “goal was to get at least one job for each of them.”
Shear Oasis stylist Rose Wilcox could not say how many new clients she got, but was happy to offer free haircuts.
Several salon employees donated free haircuts and massage.
As a new salon, the goal was to get Shear Oasis’ name out there, Wilcox said.
The plan appeared to work after the salon won the people’s choice award.
Other awards went to Lowery’s Window and Door for best of show, Payson Area Habitat for Humanity for best themed booth and American Sales and Products for best outside booth.
Payson Regional Medical Center and Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce presented the showcase.