Large crowds drawn to Downtown Connect
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Bob's Music was one of the many downtown businesses showcased during the Downtown Connect Trade Show held at the Pembroke Memorial Centre this past weekend. In the photo displaying some of their instruments are sales associate James Wilke and owner Robbie Deschamps.
The ice maybe gone at the Pembroke Memorial Centre and the Lumber Kings on hiatus but that doesn't mean the storied arena can't still serve as a place to bring the community together.
Over the weekend, folks were invited to the fourth annual Downtown Connect Trade Show hosted by the Pembroke Business Improvement Area (PBIA). Formerly known as the One-Stop Service Shop Trade Show, the free popular event once more showcased the services and products of more than 70 businesses and organizations from downtown Pembroke and beyond.
“It's a real mix of professional services, retailers, trades organizations and not-for-profits,” said PBIA manager Heather Sutherland. “It allows us to showcase the businesses that could attend. This is really about encouraging people to come downtown.”
This is the first time that the trade show has expanded to include a Friday night session. In the initial few hours after the doors opened, organizers estimated up to 300 people attended. By the end of the show on Saturday, that number had jumped to more than 800. Among the participants were Giant Tiger, Custom Draperies, Rowan's Pharmasave, Meridian Credit Union, Pick-It-Fence, Ottawa Valley Apparel and Etmanskie Heating Services. There were also many from outside the downtown catchment area including the Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and Pembroke Regional Hospital Foundation. The PBIA views the event as an opportunity to expand their reach. It was also a chance, with the nice spring weather, to reconnect with friends, network with local business owners, and see what the region has to offer.
“We're drawing people we don't normally see downtown,” said PBIA chairman Michael St. Jean, who noted that once people are done visiting the show they will be encourage to shop downtown or even sit down for dinner at one of its many restaurants. “We feel this is an attraction.”
Friday night climaxed with an exclusive fashion show organized by boutique owner Renae Rotblatt of Dot. On Saturday, the Speakers' series returned with a presentation from Pembroke History Tours’ Treena Hein who discussed the Booth family. Health and wellness coach Corrisa Levair also spoke on the benefits of essential oils. Remedy Skate and Snow’s Kayleigh Wallace led a free skateboard workshop to promote boarding and to teach youth about proper techniques and tricks, while Thai Gardens’ owner Nita Polsri introduced audiences to the art of Thai dancing and Thai boxing.