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Thousands turned out Saturday for the Wilson Chamber of Commerce Spring Expo at the Wilson County Fairgrounds.
“We had more than 100 vendors spread out between three buildings, so we have really filled up the fairgrounds space,” said Ryan Simons, president of the Wilson Chamber of Commerce. “We appreciate everybody coming out and using this as an opportunity to remember our local businesses and support them as much as they can.”
Simons said the event had two main objectives.
“No.1, it is building awareness of local businesses and making sure that people know the goods and services that are available in our market,” Simons said. “The second thing is for our area business to have an opportunity to network with one another. One of the things that we have stressed in the weeks leading up to the expo is making sure that each one of these vendors gets an opportunity to connect to one another. These are potential clients and customers as well, but also a source of referrals for them.”
Businesses set up displays, handed out literature and offered giveaways.
JoAnn Morgan of Wilson had three bags stuffed with goodies.
“It’s nice. I love it. This is the first time I have ever been here,” Morgan said. “I’ve got flyswatters, calendars, cups, coasters. I got some whatnots, crowns, notebooks, pens, light bulbs pencils and a tangerine.”
Cara Collins, Waffle House’s area people director for eastern North Carolina, was impressed with Wilson-area businesses’ participation.
“There are a lot of different vendors, so that’s pretty cool. There is a big variety,” Collins said.
Joseph Purvis, an emergency medical technician with Wilson County EMS, was among the representatives of government agencies participating alongside businesses.
Purvis was handing out literature about child safety.
“The community gets to deal with us firsthand,” Purvis said. “We get to have a face-to-face. It’s about education, safety and wellness. That’s our job.”
Cari Green of Carolina Family Health Centers said she spent the day answering questions and passing along information.
“We’ve been busy,” Green said. “My mouth hasn’t stopped moving since I got here this morning.”
Kayla Gilbert, community outreach specialist for the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina, was handing out chip clips, jar openers and sunglasses to winners of a tabletop game.
“I think this is an awesome way to bring out all of the business in the community and support small businesses,” Gilbert said.
Great Gardens won the blue ribbon for best display in the show for a service industry.
“We built a patio, and we are giving away a fire pit,” said Great Gardens owner Janie Thomas. “We are supporting the Chamber of Commerce. There is usually very little gardener participation. That’s why we go all out to see what the possibilities are. Your yard is an extension of your home.”
The Downtown Boutique of Wilson won the first-place award for product display. Owner Brooke Best said she was shocked and very happy to have won the blue ribbon.
Best said the expo has helped put her business in front of many attendees.
“It definitely gets our name out there,” Best said. “That’s the biggest thing we’re looking for — getting people to know we are here.”