The inaugural spring trade show – as yet unnamed – hosted by the Hay River Chamber of Commerce was by all accounts a success.
“We had a lot of interest from businesses to promote spring and summer activities,” said Chamber president Joe Melanson. “Canoeing, camping, quadding, all that is summer.”
Typically the Chamber hosts the Business Home and Leisure show in the fall, and will continue to do so. However, Melanson explained that many members asked for an opportunity to showcase their summer goods at the beginning of the season as opposed to at the end of it.
“As always, it’s a lot of work, a lot of volunteers,” he said, adding that organizers didn’t have much time to throw the event together.
There were about 30 exhibitors, about three-quarters of the maximum capacity the Chamber had believed it could handle, and enough people turned out to keep people manning the busy booths.
“It’s great to see everybody out,” said Gary Vizniowski, who was there selling prints and greeting cards inspired by his birding photography. “You get to see people you normally don’t get to see, and if I can sell some cards, it’ll pay for a tank of gas to get me out there again so I can keep doing it.”
Wally Schumann brought his new t-shirt printing machine to the show, making shirts on the spot to support either the Hay River Museum, or the Arctic Winter Games initiative. In three hours, he had sold 180 for the museum and 330 for the games. Schumann said he has had orders from Yellowknife in the months since he got the machine, although he has yet to have any substantial requests from Hay River groups and businesses.
“It brings the community together, brings out the community spirit, and entrepreneurship” he said. “We’re showcasing our new printer, and now people will know that we have it and what we can do with it.”
The show did not only attract locals, however, with exhibitors coming from as way away as Behchoko and Fort Smith to promote their goods and services. Fort Smith’s Sandra Robichaud has been operating Whispering Pines Cottages for decades, but said people often don’t know there are lodging options beyond the hotel in town.
“It’s good to let people know we’re there at the beginning of the season,” she said. “With the Arctic Winter Games partnership, I’m hoping to pick up on some of that business too.”
— Sarah Ladik