By Katie Benfield
On Tuesday evening, the Avery County Chamber of Commerce met for its Annual Avery Chamber Open House. In past years, the Open House has been held at the Chamber. However, this year, the Mountain Community Bank offered to host.
“The bank is beautiful inside,” Melynda Martin Pepple, Executive Director of the Chamber, said. “It has a fireplace and couches, and there is a lot of room to move around. It was a great crowd.”
The Open House occurs every January in order for the Chamber to welcome new members to join, while also promoting and celebrating the businesses that are already involved.
“We are promoting what the Chamber does and thanking everyone who is involved,” Pepple said.
However, this year was different. Starting for the first time this January, the Chamber will be choosing a business each month to be the Business of the Month. a business is chosen by a random drawing of businesses who are members of the Chamber. Each time a business comes to an event, it is able to put its name on a piece of paper and add it to the pot for drawing. Otherwise, a business has the freedom to simply call and request to be added to the drawing.
Being the Business of the Month means that the Chamber promotes that specific business for the entire month.
“We will do email blasts, talk about little facts, draw on the good of the business, what the business does,” Pepple said.
Appalachian Home Care, LLC was awarded the first Business of the Month award at the Open House, creating what is hopefully going to be a long tradition that is geared towards bringing in new businesses while also promoting those that are already involved.
“It’s something that will pull more interest and help promote our businesses here in the high country,” Pepple said, “and hopefully get more people interested in what the chamber can help and do for them.”
Not only was the Open House used to celebrate local businesses, but it also helped to promote and support other causes, as well. Pema Tshiri Sherpa, a professional Nepalese sherpa, helped spread cultural awareness by providing handwoven yakwool shawls that were available for purchase. All proceeds from the sales of the shawls went to support the earthquake recovery efforts in Nepal.
“They were beautiful and its not very often you have the opportunity to buy a handwoven yakwool shawl in banner elk and be for a worthy cause,” Pepple said.
With all the different occurrences this year with the Chamber’s open house, it was a new experience and one that was full of appreciation and excitement. Everyone involved spent the night celebrating community, support and another year of promoting local businesses.
“On behalf of the Chamber, we appreciate so much the support we receive from the community as we grow and all the new visitors we will have,” Pepple said. “We are excited about this new year.”
Photos by Ken Ketchie:
Photos by Jim Swinkola: