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Businesses gearing up for trade show

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 08:23 am

Rylie’s Cattle Barn owner Rob Bolton, right, and employee Happy McGilton serve up some samples of barbecued ribs at last year’s Foothills Festival of Flavours held during the Okotoks’ Trade and Lifestyle Show. This year’s trade show takes place on April 11 and 12.
Rylie’s Cattle Barn owner Rob Bolton, right, and employee Happy McGilton serve up some samples of barbecued ribs at last year’s Foothills Festival of Flavours held during the Okotoks’ Trade and Lifestyle Show. This year’s trade show takes place on April 11 and 12.
Wheel File Photo

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In a community as large as Okotoks it’s not easy being noticed.

Okotoks merchants hope to change that during this weekend’s Trade and Lifestyle Show. The event is bringing more than 140 foothills businesses under one roof on April 11 and 12 for an opportunity to showcase their wares and services at no costs to visitors.

Barb Mercier, co-owner of Simply Floors, books a booth every year.

“It’s good advertising for us,” said Mercier. “It keeps us out there.”

Mercier said year after year visitors stop by the Simply Floors booth and say they didn’t know the business was in Okotoks.

“We get that a lot,” she said. “I think it’s because the city is growing so much.”

That’s why Mercier puts her business’ name on the list each year.

“It gets us close to people that might not come into the store but they come into the trade shows,” she said. “I think people that are just moving in they are the ones who like to come to trade shows because they don’t know the businesses and it gives them local businesses all at once.”

Mercier said being part of the trade show is not only good for getting the word out to potential clients about their business, it’s also an opportunity to connect with other merchants.

“We get a lot of good networking just talking to people who run other booths,” she said.

Okotokian Amber Chapman has always loved the trade show and remembers the excitement she felt going each year.

“I remember loving going there and meeting people,” she said. “I love seeing what people are doing.”

Now Chapman organizes the event as president of the Okotoks and District Chamber of Commerce, giving businesses, including home-based businesses, across the foothills an opportunity to showcase their wares and services and residents and visitors the opportunity to see what their region has to offer.

“It’s known for an opportunity to be able to shop at many different and very diverse businesses in the foothills,” she said. “People like to support their own local businesses and this is a great way to do that.”

Chapman said the event meets the needs of a diverse group of people whether they are looking for personal care, landscaping, jewelry, home improvement, electrical, automotive, sports, travel, clothing or beauty products.

“If you know you are in need of something chances are there is going to be someone there who is able to meet your needs,” she said.

Although the trade show remained the same in many ways over the years, Chapman said there are some differences. For instance, the show only filled half the Piper Arena in the Okotoks Recreation Centre in its first year about a decade ago and now it fills two arenas.

Three years ago, the chamber introduced the Foothills Festival of Flavours on Saturday afternoons, offering the opportunity for visitors to pay a dollar for each sample of food they wanted to taste from a variety of foothills restaurants and bakeries. Last year’s event sold 700 samples.

“It’s such a neat way for a small amount of money to be able to taste the food of restaurants you never had the opportunity to before,” said Chapman. “The interest has certainly grown.”

Chamber past president Cheryl Actemichuk said the event is a huge success with numerous restaurants taking part to showcase some of their best dishes.

Whether it’s the good deals, the food or the opportunity to visit, Actemichuk said it’s a community favourite attracting as many as 5,000 people.

“We draw people from all over the foothills area,” she said, adding many visit from Calgary. “There is a lot of residents who don’t realize what we have in town. They can gather all the knowledge they need for whatever they are looking for to go see what’s happening in town.”

The Okotoks Trade and Lifestyle Show takes place on April 11 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and April 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Okotoks Recreation Centre.


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