Crowds, merchants turn out for Expo

By Brandon HENSLEY

Despite the struggling economic times, business was booming Sept. 8 inside the community rooms of Verdugo Hills Hospital.
Almost 60 businesses came together for the Foothills Community Business Expo, presented by the Crescenta Valley, La Cañada and Montrose-Verdugo City chambers of commerce.
“Businesses are struggling. But every year we try to just highlight the businesses in the area, so businesses have a forum to tell more people what they do,” said Julia Rabago, executive director of the CV Chamber.
Many booths had to be stretched into the hallways, and the large turnout of people made for one crowded but enthusiastic night.
The Expo started in 2000, and is held every September. The goal is to bring local businesses together and heighten their profile to potential customers, especially in these times.

“We’re trying to keep everything local. That’s our motto,” Rabago said, who was participating in her fifth expo.
“They network together,” said Jean Maluccio, president of the CV Chamber. “But it gives them one spot, like a little city for people to come into and talk to all at one time.”
Aside from networking, prizes were given out every 15 minutes. Brochures were handed out detailing what businesses were at what table, and people who visited each booth and got their brochure signed were given $10 worth of free raffle tickets. Prizes included gift baskets and cards, or services pertaining to the specific business.
The cost to sponsor a business was steep, depending on how much businesses wanted to highlight themselves. Gold sponsors paid $500 and silver sponsors paid $250. The cost was less for the others.
The designated emcee for the evening was Mike Perry, president of the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber. Perry called off the raffle winners, told a few jokes, and entertained the crowd with his acoustic guitar skills.
“It’s like putting time into the community,” said Perry, whose Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” was part of his set list, “and I think people who donate whatever talent [they have] … it always helps the community and it always comes back to them.
“If it makes them have a good time, that makes me happy.”
The beginning of fall is an important time for Perry and his chamber. Aside from the business Expo, Montrose will host Oktoberfest on Oct. 2.
“A lot of people have lived here for their whole lives,” said Perry, “so when we come down to Montrose as a big group for the Oktoberfest, there are thousands of people and more than likely you’ll see people you haven’t seen for 10 to 15 years.”
Regardless of what happens next month, Perry deemed this Expo a success. “Every year they just get better and better,” he said.
Maluccio also said the crowd was noticeably bigger than last year’s. She was also thankful to the hospital donating the place for the last decade, and in the future.
“The hospital’s been very gracious all the years to let us be here. It just worked out,” she said.