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Business is bustling at chamber’s Retail Expo

By Staff | Jan 28, 2010

Karen Nohrenberg, left, from Minneapolis, Minn. was the lucky winner of a necklace donated by Lily & Co. Jewelers at Sunday's Community Fair & Rail Expo. Presenting the prize was Lily & Co. co-owner Dan Schuyler.

If the attendance at Sunday’s Community Fair & Retail Expo – staged by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce – in some way revealed an indication of future business prospects on the islands, then 2010 would appear to be heading towards a very good year.

“It appeared to be our largest attendance yet,” said Bridgit Stone-Budd, marketing director for the chamber. “I heard lots and lots of kudos from the vendors thanking the chamber for the opportunity.”

Participants attending this year’s expo included the Royal Shell Companies, Breeze Newspapers, Lily & Co., John Grey Painting, Coffee Bar @ Bailey’s, ShopOnSanibel.com, Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, ‘Tween Waters Inn, Independent Beauty, Hillgate Communications, Hurricane Shutter Co., The Grog Shop, ABWA and Bailey’s General Store.

Also attending were Heidrick & Co., Eagle Precision Auto, San-Cap Rotary Club, Billy’s Bikes & Rentals, Cartier Charter, Island Therapy Center, The Cedar Chest, Costco, FAFCO Solar, BB&T Bank, Island Book Nook, SCA, Stroemer & Co., SARR, Tribeca Salon, Shiny Objects, Meardon Photography, The Bait Box, Sanibel Shellcrafters and Tarpon Bay Explorers.

“We saw a large group of visitors this year, too,” added Stone-Budd. “Usually it’s mostly residents who come, but we saw many tourists coming by to check it out.”

Billy Kirkland, center, poses with a bicycle he donated to Girl Scout Troop 228, which includes members Elizabeth Meardon, Kaitlyn Rothwell, Casey Mason, Kathryn Kortegast, Julia Holston and Marne Kortegast.

Being able to attract crowds to the Sanibel Community House on a Sunday may seem like a tall task, but the expo offered not only vendor booths for passersby to explore. It offered many family-friendly activities, including live music, a bounce house, inflatable slide and dunk tank, free food and beverages.

There were also a plethora of giveaways, including a 50-inch flatscreen TV, jewelry, shellcrafts, clothing, artwork, a bicycle, business services and gift certificates.

“We decided to go to the Farmer’s Market (at Tahitian Gardens, just up the street from the Community Fair) and saw a sign,” said Karen Nohrenberg, visiting from Minnesota. “We come down for the winter and are always looking for fun things to do.”

Nohrenberg turned out to be one of the big lucky winners at the expo, having her name drawn in a raffle for a necklace donated by Lily & Co. Jewelers.

“I’ve never won anything before in my life!” she added. “I’m so excited!”

Domizio Melchiorre, left, from Tribeca Salon poses with Wanda and Mark Shefts from The Onyx & Breezy Foundation.

David and Mady Rohn from Captiva won the flatscreen TV, donated by Royal Shell.

Billy Kirkland, a longtime business owner on the island, praised the chamber for putting on another wonderful fair.

“This seems like it’s more organized. I think that more people heard about it happening this year,” he said. “I’ve been doing these expos for a long time, and this is better than it’s ever been. There are fun things for the kids to do and great things for moms and dads to see.”

In addition to a door prize, Kirkland donated a bicycle for Sanibel Girl Scout Troop 228 as an incentive for their annual cookie sale. Troop leader Diane St. Pierre explained that cookie sales – running now through Feb. 20 – will soon take place at both Bailey’s General Store and Jerry’s Market.

To place a cookie order, call St. Pierre at 472-9211 or Angela Timms at 395-3344.

Vicki Ross, Ann Arnoff and Dorothy Harper from Sanibel Shellcrafters.

“I think a lot of folks recognize that it’s a fun day to come out and see what our island merchants have to offer,” said Richard Johnson, manager of Bailey’s General Store. “It’s a way for us to reach out to the community, not only to the people we appreciate all year long but the people who come here to visit. This is a great event, not just a sales pitch.”

Stone-Budd said that she is already looking towards plans for next year’s Community Fair & Rail Expo, where they hope to expand activities for teenagers in attendance.

The Chamber of Commerce bus, covered in photographs by Alan S. Maltz, drew many admirers throughout the day.