TOWN OF WALLKILL – The businesses were as varied as a pet resort, a pest control company and a dance studio. In between were financial advisors and a plethora of health-related services.
The Orange County Chamber of Commerce's 25th annual Expo brought them together Wednesday, an event held for the first time at the Galleria at Crystal Run. It was just the second time it wasn’t at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor, a change intended to put more consumers in front of the participating businesses.
Judy Annunziata, owner of three Edible Arrangements shops, held out a tray of chocolate-covered apple slices and strawberries. “We’re selling a lot of our fresh-fruit smoothies; it’s a new concept,” she said. “Our competitors use frozen fruit.”
James Hollenbeck, owner of Hollenbeck Pest Control in New Windsor, was enthused. “It used to be more a business-to-business event … Here there’s definitely more consumer traffic,” he said as an associate passed out fly swatters.
Some exhibitors were busier than others. Ones with central locations seemed to fare best. Personnel at several Galleria businesses said they hadn’t noticed an increase in customers.
A half dozen people strolling in the mall said they were loyal Expo attendees; some hadn't missed the event in nearly a decade.
“I live less than 10 minutes away, so I like this,” said Annette VanSickle. “I always go to the Expo. Here the parking is better and everything is spread out.”
Some businesses made their first appearance at the Expo, like Quinnz Pinz, the Middletown bowling center, and Pets Alive, a not-for-profit animal rescue in the Town of Wallkill. Pets Alive Development Director Mary Ann Bopp thought it would be a good place to spread awareness of the group’s mission.
“We have over 300 animals for adoption,” she said, “and people in Middletown don’t know what Pets Alive is. So this is a great opportunity.”
Her booth was adjacent to Pet N Play Luxury Pet Resort from the Town of Newburgh. Spins of a carnival wheel for T-shirts, and pet food scoops drew an audience.
A Legoland play area occupied a spacious central location. Eric Bryan watched sons Owen, 4, and twin 2-year-olds, Emmett and Alton, play with Lego bricks. Nearby, his wife, Dr. Jennifer Vazquez-Bryan, spoke to passersby about her primary care practice, Altucare, in Middletown.
“It’s an opportunity for people to see me, get to know me as a person,” she said.
Two dedicated Expo goers, Danielle Sarnecky of Middletown and Kristin Tamburo of Maybrook, also stopped at Legoland’s area. Each pushed a stroller, Tamburo with Andrew, 1, and Sarnecky with Aubrey, 11 months old. The mothers savored work and recreational opportunities at Legoland's proposed Goshen amusement park.
“We need something close,” Sarnecky said. “A place you don’t have to travel to in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Everything is out of state.”