Hundreds come out for Business Expo

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, November 27, 2013

More than 50 vendors and approximately 600 people visited the 20th Franklin-Southampton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

More than 50 vendors and approximately 600 people visited the 20th Franklin-Southampton Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. — CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—More than 50 vendors and approximately 600 people flowed in and out of the Regional Workforce Center at Paul D. Camp Community College on Thursday evening for the annual business expo.

Dorothy Barry drove from Ivor to see what some of what the city had to offer.

“It is a wonderful display of Franklin,” she said. “It is just an outstanding event.”

Ellis Cofield Jr. came out for the first time to get the name of his business, Cofield’s Locksmith, out in the public eye. He had a Cofield’s security golf-cart set up, with its yellow lights flashing, as well as key chains with the company logo on it.

“I just joined the chamber of commerce and thought I would give it a try,” he said. “I think it has been an awesome day. It’s a good event, a chance to get some exposure.”

Franklin-Southampton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Teresa Beale that the event was a success.

“We were just very delighted with this event,” she said. “It is one of our premier events. We just love this. It is a way to interact with the whole community.”

Manish Patel, M.D., was one of the doctors of Southampton Memorial Hospital at the event to meet and greet people.

“This is a nice way to reach out to people,” he said. “I’m always for people seeing us in roles other than just their doctor.”

Beale said the rapport between the community and businesses was strong.

“There were lots of conversations going on between the people that came and the vendors,” she said. “The vendors were really pleased with the attendance. They met a lot of new people.”

Southampton Memorial also offered blood pressure checks and health insurance marketplace information.

Food was also plentiful, as Mary’z Cafe, Southern Sisters Bakery and Eatery, The Village at Woods Edge Back Porch and Grille and Farm Fresh were out with samplers and other dishes.

Attendees also had the opportunity to have a flu shot, have their photo taken in the booth and win prizes at the interactive booths.

Awards included Most Creative, The Peanut Patch; Most Informative, Airfield 4-H Conference Center; Most Interactive, Smart Beginnings; Best Use of Space, Southern Charm Garden Center; and People’s Choice, Hubbard Peanut Company, Inc.

“I think each year, the vendors seem to ramp it up a little bit more,” Beale said. “They put in a lot of time and effort to make them look attractive and stand out. I think each year they get a little more competitive.”

MeChelle Blunt from PDCCC was drawn as the grand-prize winner for four hours chauffeured by Lancelot Limo in their 32-foot-long limousine or the Jaguar XJ8 sedan.

Grace Lynn Drake of Newsoms won the Chamber Raffle, which was a $500 gift certificate good for any airline flying out of Norfolk International Airport.

Beth Cheatham of Franklin won a free iPad from FUEL, Franklin’s young professional organization.

The Virginia Department of Treasury Division of Unclaimed Property was able to find $53,110.66 for people at the expo.

“They were very pleased to find that amount in just one evening,” said Beale. “I’m sure that the people that found unclaimed funds were very pleased as well!”

Anne Bryant comes to the event every year to get information on the town’s businesses, while her husband, H.B. Bryant, is there in part “for the free pens,” he said with a laugh.

“I limit him to two,” Anne smiled. “I think it is a good event, a chance to see what is new in Franklin.”