ARLINGTON — Inspire Hair Studio, located at 108 E. Fifth St. in Arlington, will host the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce's next Business After Hours, from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, and salon owner Pam Evans couldn't be more thrilled.
"I see it as a way of staying connected with my community," said Evans, whose salon opened in May, and was officially inaugurated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert and several fellow Chamber members on Oct. 5. "Of course, it's also nice to meet with other business owners and build a network as well."
In addition to refreshments and a few special giveaways, Evans promised attendees of her Business After Hours that husbands could receive another $20 toward their purchases if they bought $100 gift cards for their wives.
"It's still a few days away, so I'm nailing down some of the details yet," said Evans, who nonetheless hopes to help community members provide one another with some holiday gifts for the festive season. "We'll also be offering discounts on a number of our products."
Chamber President Kristen Granroth expects that the Business After Hours at Inspire Hair Studio will draw more than a decent-sized crowd, given the monthly get-together's general attendance trends.
"Overall, the numbers for these events have been going up," Granroth said. "We have noticed some months are a little more popular, and some a little less — mostly in the summer, probably because people want to take advantage of those nice evenings — but since the beginning of 2013, and even the later part of 2012, the general count is up. We have seen highs in the 60s, but Business After Hours meetings average between 30-45 people easily, depending on what else is happening in our area."
Granroth touted the biggest benefit of Business After Hours as affording its participants opportunities to socialize in more casual settings than typical Chamber meetings, which is intended to allow the events' hosts and guests alike to get to know each other on a different level than most other networking events.
"We can talk about our businesses and ourselves as people, so when someone we know needs a service, we can say something like, 'Oh, I know a guy with Aflac. I was just hanging out with James the other night, and he seems like a great guy,' which is a vastly different referral from, 'There's an Aflac guy in Arlington, I think,'" Granroth said. "On the host's side, it gives you a chance to have a large group of people visit your place of business, outside of business hours, so they feel comfortable being there."
Granroth deemed this month's Business After Hours a special event, since it's hosted by a relatively new business. She also believes it's especially helpful for a service business, such as a hair salon, to let prospective customers see its spaces before they might decide to do business there.
"When they know exactly where and which one your business is, it makes it easier for them to send business your way," Granroth said. "It's easier to refer someone to Inspire Hair Studio after being there, and seeing the beautiful space they have, so that you know what you're getting yourself or someone you know into."
Granroth reiterated her commitment to supporting newer and locally owned businesses, and identified the variety of businesses in Arlington and Smokey Point as one of the keys to what she predicts will be the local business community's long-term success.
"We have a lot of growth happening in our manufacturing sector, and by default, that's going to spur growth in the service trades, as more and more people come here to live and work," Granroth said. "We have a great geographic location for manufacturing, and its continued growth means we can expect to see related industries start to pop up more."
"Our own business has just continued to grow," Evans said of Inspire Hair Studio. "I'm really grateful for the support we've received from the community, which has taken the motto of 'Buy Local' to heart."
For more information, call Inspire Hair Studio at 360-435-4509, or log onto the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce website at www.arlington-smokeypointchamber.com.