You won’t zip line over the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino parking lot like you may have at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce (RCRCC) Business Showcase back in April 2017.

No, Saturday’s RCRCC Fall Flea Market and Business Expo is smaller in scale, but new chamber executive director Brenda Case believes it’s the right event for this strange year.

This year’s nonprofit Fall Flea Market and Business Expo is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 in the Payson High School parking lot. It’ll feature marketing and networking, plus food, music and fun. Businesses paid $25 for a space in the event.

“We’re excited to be hosting an innovative and low-cost way to market (and even sell) your business products and services at our Flea Market Business Expo,” Case said. “We are welcoming all chamber members to participate but are specifically targeting our smaller business partners who may not have the resources to be a part of the annual business expo.

“What we are doing is a mini showcase. It’s a very scaled down cost effective, very cheap version. It’s only $25 a seat (for businesses). The focus goal is for businesses within our membership to have a low-cost opportunity for advertising with the community, networking with each other, so that we can encourage that sort of networking shop local support each other here in Rim Country.

“We’re excited about it.”

The Razor Thin Media-sponsored event is open to the public for free and features music by KRIM FM, food vendors and many area business owners and staff will be on hand to let folks know what they’re all about.

She’s encouraging business owners taking part to bring candy for trick-or-treating kids.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced her to come up with a different kind of event.

“For $25 per space, you set up your own tables, chairs, and banners,” she said of chamber members. “We will have food trucks and music to help draw people to our event. Proceeds from this event will go toward establishing a chamber business scholarship to one of our marketing students at Payson High School.”

Case is learning as she goes as the chamber’s executive director. Thirty-seven years in education has helped her adapt quickly.

An example came during the chamber’s monthly breakfast and luncheon sessions at Mazatzal Hotel & Casino on Tuesday. The chamber formerly held a large luncheon in the casino’s banquet room. But they switched to Zoom meetings for several months because of the pandemic before returning to a modified in-person event last month, the first event Case has run. Starting last year, they hold a breakfast with a limit of 25 people and a luncheon featuring the same speaker with a maximum of 25 attendees.

Chamber members participate in these events to acquire valuable information, but also to eat. They’re paying for both food and information, along with networking opportunities.

Everything went well, except for the eating part.

“I introduced the speaker at breakfast this morning and went to sit down and realized I never released the tables to go get their food,” Case told 25 members attending the luncheon. “I didn’t want to interrupt the speaker, so we waited until he was done.”

She learned from that experience and included a “Let’s Eat” slide in her PowerPoint presentation for the lunch crowd.

Case praised the help of Mazatzal Hotel & Casino Food and Beverage Manager Darla Harger in adhering to new COVID-19 protocols to resume the chamber luncheons.

“Darla makes me look good,” Case said. “I just tell her ‘this is what I need, this is how I need it.’ She thought I was crazy when I said I wanted a no-touch buffet and it needs to be Chipotle style, so that nobody touches it, otherwise we can’t do this. And she did it flawlessly. She makes it so much easier for me.”

Saturday’s Flea Market Business Expo is not for profit, with proceeds going to fund a scholarship for a Payson High School Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) student. DECA provides Payson High School marketing students many opportunities to expand leadership skills, learn from professionals, and use those skills to compete in different events.

“We want to give back to our own; we want to build our own,” Case said. “We’re also encouraging any of our businesses that want to donate to that scholarship, we’ll take that money and it will go directly to the scholarship for a DECA student. So, we’re kind of excited about that. That is my attempt to begin to bridge and build a partnership between the career and technical education (CTE) programs at the high school and the local businesses here so that we can create internships. The DECA group under Ginger Liddell’s leadership did all of our foot advertising. They went to all members, as many as they could, anyway, and handed out paper flyers to make sure those that didn’t get the email or check Facebook or any of those things we’ve advertised on, it’s another layer of advertisement for them. So very grateful for the DECA Club and their willingness to get involved. They’re excited about building internships with our businesses and we really want it to be a program that runs through the chamber so that it is sustainable over time.”

Case said she starts out every week ready to tackle any challenges and ends most weeks a little drained.

“This is a team of one and I have the support of the board, but it is challenging because I need to duplicate myself and I can’t,” she said. “That’s why on Monday I’m going to tell you ‘This is the best job ever,’ and by Friday I’m going to say, ‘Wow, I need a B-12 shot.’ But overall I’m enjoying it.

“It’s exactly what I expected it to be. And what I expected it to be was a challenge. Other than that, I had no idea the ins and outs, mostly, not just because of the job description but because of COVID. COVID is unpredictable. So how does that change how the chamber works? There’s no book for that.”

On Saturday, she’ll get a chance to run her first RCRCC Flea Market Business Expo.

There will be some speed bumps. But she’s ready for them.

The event may be smaller than in some years, but it doesn’t come without risks.

“I don’t know if it’s going to work; it’s a first-time gig,” Case said. “But if you don’t try, you don’t know.”

If you’re interested in joining the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, contact Case by email at Brenda@rimcountrychamber.com or by phone at 928-474-4515.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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