The Thurmont business community put its best foot forward for the 11th Annual Thurmont Business Expo, held on April 2, 2015. However, this was the Expo that almost didn’t happen. Thurmont Main Street, the usual organizers of the event, had decided not to hold the Expo this year and canceled it.
Heather Dewees and Rob Renner decided that the event provided too much value to Thurmont businesses and its residents and to cancel it would be a loss.
“I felt like if we lost it, it wasn’t ever coming back,” Dewees said.
The Expo allows residents to come out and discover many of the 260 businesses that are in the town. Business owners can meet potential customers and show off their goods and services.
Dewees and Renner approached the Thurmont Special Events Committee to provide things like liability insurance and to handle money from vendors. Dewees and Renner lowered the cost of sponsorship and didn’t charge extra to businesses that wanted to sell products.
“It involves a lot of coordination, but it was fun,” said Renner.
However, just when things came together and the Expo was ready to go, a late snowstorm closed schools on March 20, which meant that the Expo had to be postponed.
Nearly four dozen of the town’s businesses participated in the Expo, which was rescheduled for a Thursday evening.
“We lost a few vendors because we rescheduled, but this was the only other night available,” Dewees said.
Hundreds of people turned out for the event at Catoctin High School.
John Nickerson is a familiar face at the Expo, with his original Gnarly Artly t-shirts. “Most of my business is done on the internet, so this gives me the chance to meet a lot of people,” Nickerson said.
Stacie Zelenka, owner of Pondscapes, agreed. “We’re a home-based business, so this gives us the opportunity to have a storefront for an evening and meet customers.”
She said the Expo has proven its worth to her because she always gets referrals from it. She also gets the opportunity to meet customers who say that they didn’t know her business existed, so the Expo exposes her business to new customers.
Heather Lawyer with Gateway Automotive said that Gateway doesn’t really advertise so the Expo allows Gateway Automotive to put itself out in front of the community.
“It’s also nice to have customers stop by and talk to us and say, ‘Thank you,’” said Lawyer.
A nice new feature of this year’s Expo was that each visitor was given a vendor map that also included addresses, phone numbers, and websites for each Expo vendor.
Proceeds from the Thurmont Business Expo are donated to the Thurmont Food Bank.
Candy and Heather Lawyer of Gateway Automotive behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.
Niki Eyler, owner of The Eyler Stables Flea Market in Thurmont, at the Thurmont Business Expo.
Folks from the Thurmont Veterinary Clinic are shown at their booth.
Thurmont’s Mayor, John Kinnaird poses next to a drawing of himself done by John Nickerson of Gnarly Artly.
Doris Roman and Antonio C. from the Thurmont Senior Center are shown behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.
Photos by Grace Eyler