Business exposition to return

January 05, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

The Hampstead Business Association plans to resurrect its tradition of holding an annual business exposition Feb. 26 at North Carroll High School.

It will be the association's 11th expo. Until last year, the expo had been an annual event.

The rebirth of the business expo also may signal a rebirth of the Hampstead Business Association, which claims "well over 100" members, according to Ed Cross, who is association president and president of C&D Garage Doors.

The association's newest directory lists more than 270 Hampstead businesses.

"It looks like it's starting to get a second wind," said Frank Kosmakos, manager of Maria's Restaurant in Hampstead and a member of the association's board of directors.

Last year's business expo was canceled because of a lack of participation, according to a business association newsletter from last summer.

Mr. Cross said his message in that newsletter had been, "If you're not going to bother, we're not going to bother."

But interest in the expo is strong this year, said Dottie Wilhelm, expo chairwoman and manager of the Hampstead office of Rittenhouse Fuel Co.

Thirty-five businesses have signed up for the expo, she said Monday, adding, "That's just the beginning.

"The purpose of the expo is to let the people in the community know what we have here," Ms. Wilhelm said.

"We have lots in Hampstead to be thankful for. We can do our shopping here if we want to."

She said interest in the association also is building.

"We're winding it back up," she said.

Last year, the association had problems lining up a venue for the expo, Mr. Cross said. That caused the date to be moved from the traditional February to June.

"The timing was wrong," he said. It would have been better to schedule the event for a slow period than during the summer, when many employees take vacation and when some businesses are at their busiest.

The date change also meant a break in the tradition of scheduling the expo for the same day the Hampstead Rotary Club serves its fund-raising breakfast for the fire company. Some business association members say the breakfast is an important lead-in to the expo.

"It only works out with the breakfast, it seems like," Ms. Wilhelm said.

This year, the breakfast and the expo will be on the same day.

The sluggish economy also has drained members from the business association in recent years, Mr. Cross said.

"A lot of people went out of business," Mr. Kosmakos said.

Mr. Cross said some association participants may have been scared away after Otis K. Comstock, who was president of the association in the mid-1980s, was accused of stealing more than $100,000 from four local condominium associations.

"It [the business association] started to fizzle as soon as that situation came up," Mr. Cross said.

Mr. Comstock pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft in November 1992. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, with all but 60 days suspended.

The association has changed the format of its meetings to improve participation. Mr. Cross said meetings are now held quarterly instead of monthly, and each meeting features a speaker.

"That format seems to have helped a little bit," he said.

The business expo will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Feb. 26. Admission is free.

Booths cost $40. For more information, contact Ms. Wilhelm at 374-2767.

The Hampstead Business Association will meet at 7 p.m. today at Dean's Restaurant, 832 Main St., to plan for the expo.

For more information on the Hampstead Business Association, contact Mr. Cross at 374-5114.

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