By Annette Hinkle
Kelly Connaughton, president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce (and president of the Sag Harbor American Music Festival).
Summer is a big time for Sag Harbor businesses. With the season here, what has the chamber planned for the weeks ahead?
We’re doing a breakfast on Wednesday, June 5 at The American Hotel. The breakfast is part of our new monthly networking events. The chamber always did dinners six months out of the year. This year, we had new people come on the board, Gavin Menu and Dave MacMillan, and reworked those into monthly networking events.
So we’ll have 12 events. We have dinners, we also do the mix and mingle — an evening get together for two hours and the pricing is a lot lower. It’s more casual. The third thing we’re doing is the breakfast. It will be $13, it’s a continental breakfast and we’ll talk about some of the other things coming up with the chamber.
And what else is coming up?
The Father’s Day Arts and Craft sale this year will include a sidewalk sale on both June 15 and 16. Any business that’s a chamber member who participates in the sidewalk sale is covered by our insurance
This year we’ll do three sidewalk sales — the first is that Father’s Day weekend, we do one at HarborFest and Columbus Day weekend also. Debbie Rudoy is working with Alan Fruitstone on that.
In the past, there haven’t been many summer chamber events — the logic being the crowds are here anyway. Has that thinking changed?
There are a lot of great things the chamber has done over the years. We’ve taken a look at our mission and how we can better serve the business community by directing time and resources to those things.
What’s interesting is we’re adding these things in summer based on direct feedback from members and board members. Usually active members evolve into board members and usually they’ll spearhead that change
There are some new people on board, merchants who felt we could do more to bring people in during the season as well. Events we do tend to be in the off-season when there are not as many people here. But we always want to get people to buy, so extending the arts and crafts sale which brings people in to Sag Harbor by adding the component of the sidewalk sale will keep them here.
What about the shoulder seasons and the winter months?
Everyone loves HarborFest — it’s our biggest event, but how can we extend our reach into the winter months? The shoulder season is OK, but we want to build into winter. December is kind of dead for us. It was a lot more quiet last year than many merchants thought it would be. We have some ideas we’re working on in November that leads into December to help spike that holiday season. Then we have HarborFrost in February.
We’re becoming year round.
How important are the efforts of chamber members in bringing new events to life?
Most of the things we develop come from members’ ideas. We’re trying to get people working with us to make our website more user friendly, so if people come to Sag Harbor they can connect directly to the merchants.
We’re all volunteers who are business owners in one way or another. We’re looking for new ways to engage the membership so they participate on committees, they get that experience and help generate new ideas. We always partner someone with experience with new members.
So the website is being updated and the chamber now has a Facebook page. It seems that things are moving along nicely.
We’re making progress. It’s exciting. There are so many ideas out there, the only way to bring them to life is to get the members involved. That’s our focus.
So anyone reading this who has ideas, become a member of the chamber and get involved. You can send me a Facebook message.
In addition to next Wednesday’s breakfast, the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce will host a HarborFest organizational meeting on June 10, 2013 at 6 p.m. at Il Capuccino’s on Madison Street, Sag Harbor.