Tonawanda News — The Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas offers resources, advocacy and support for 600 businesses, organizations and individuals in Erie and Niagara counties.
But this weekend, as it has over the last 26 years, the chamber will be taking its offerings a step further, during the T-NT Expo, where 120 vendor booths, half of them run by chamber members, will be setting up shop for a two days inside the North Tonawanda Student Alumni Center.
Joyce Santiago, the chamber’s executive director, said the expo had traditionally taken place every other year, but after the introduction of the Women’s Expo in 2010, the business-geared weekends have now become an annual affair.
This year’s focus will be broader, a draw that brings in families as a whole rather than groups of largely women, as was the case in 2012.
“We were doing it every other year anyway so we weren’t having anything on the off year,” she said. “We brought in the women’s expo just to keep it fresh. Obviously it is catered toward women’s needs and its a bit more quaint, more of a ladies day out. With this year’s expo people tend to come with the whole family. It’s a lot more than a women’s outing, where the T-NT is more of a family event.”
Santiago said interest has grown among both vendors and patrons after the chamber allowed sales to take place in 2010, which opened up the expo to a larger swath of business causing attendance to swell to between 6,000 and 8,000 people.
“Introducing retail sales into it caused more people to come out,” she said. “It wasn’t just a showcase anymore. We found more vendors and different types of vendors wanted to participate and lot of shops wanted to sell items.”