Chamber debuts Business After Hours

SMOKEY POINT — The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce’s first official Business After Hours meeting also served to introduce the community to the Chamber’s new offices, as well as the temporary location for a longtime Arlington merchant.

Roughly a dozen attendees stopped by the Chamber’s offices on Thursday, Aug. 16, from Allstate, Dignity Memorial, the Granroth Insurance Agency, Mountain State Fitness and Nutrition, and Pacific Learning Solutions, while Debbie Whitis, a.k.a. “The Purse Lady” of Arlington, showed off the corner of the Chamber’s offices that currently serves as her shop’s home.

“It’s a small group now, but we’re just getting started,” said Michelle Wiley, one of the Ambassadors of the Chamber, who led the Aug. 16 Business After Hours. “We’ve made it the third Thursday of every month — the same day on every month — so that people will hopefully remember.”

The Ambassadors are a volunteer committee within the Chamber, and their goal is for the Business After Hours meetings to take place on the third Thursday of every month, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the site of a different local business each month, which would provide light snacks or appetizers, and perhaps even wine or beer, depending on the business in question.

These Business After Hours meetings will offer not only door prizes, but also networking opportunities. Each business that brings a door prize will be given a one-minute period to promote themselves to their fellow attendees, but providing such door prizes is not necessary to attend or network at the meetings.

Wiley reported that the Holiday Inn Express of Marysville, Granroth Insurance Agency of Smokey Point and Weller Funeral Home of Arlington have all agreed to host future Chamber Business After Hours meetings. She expects that the Business After Hours meetings will soon have enough hosts to see them through the end of 2012, although she’s still encouraging local businesses to participate as either hosts or attendees of the meetings.

“We also wanted to take this time to promote the Visitor Information Center at our Chamber offices,” Wiley said on Aug. 16. “We could use volunteers here as well. We had 16 walk-ins today, which is our biggest daily total of the month. I’m not sure how many people realize what a great resource they have here, but as they get to know our new location, I’m hoping they’ll learn that as well.”

According to Donna Leifer, a regular volunteer at the Chamber’s Visitor Information Center, questions about hiking and walking trails are at least as frequent as those regarding local shopping opportunities.

“We actually have maps that show us those trails, not only in Arlington and Darrington, but also Stanwood and Granite Falls,” Leifer said. “We’re a Snohomish County Visitor Information Center, so we’re here to promote the whole region, not just Smokey Point or Arlington.”

The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce offices are located at 4126-B 172nd St. NE in Arlington and are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The next Chamber after hours will take place from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, but according to Wiley, two businesses are currently vying to host it, so the location has yet to be determined.

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