MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, GA -- Marines, civilian employees and spouses shared laughs and smiles with local business people Sept. 26 at the 2002 Friendship Connection.
The Officers' Spouses Club has hosted the event for more than six years. According to Barbara Brown, OSC president here, the event is held to foster good relations between base military families and area business people.
"Many of the military families aboard the base are not familiar with the area and have not gotten into the nooks and crannies of the community," said Brown. "This event brings vendors from out in town and introduces the base to them. That way, people from the base can find out where these great businesses are."
This year's larger attendance by local businesses was attributed to the hard work of Hazel Sellars, OSC member who recruited them, said Brown.
This event helped some of the smaller businesses in Albany inform people about their business and themselves. Business owners and employees were able to come face to face with members of the base community, potential future customers, in a friendly and relaxed environment without the stress of retail sales. Although some vendors brought merchandise with them and sold a few things, they mainly brought the products so customers could see the quality of their goods.
"This way they get an opportunity to share with us, display their products and talk one-on-one, because in their shops they might not have time to," said Brown. "This gives them a break from their shops and gives them the opportunity to get into details about what they do. This event puts everything on a more personal level."
To attract people to their businesses, some vendors offered free samples and take-home goodies. One of the event's most visited businesses was the Parks at Cheehaw. Don Dally, volunteer worker, for the Parks at Cheehaw, brought five animals to generate interest in visiting the park to see more animals.
Dally received many "oh how cute" comments when he introduced Molly the hedgehog visitors. Once he had a crowd who wanted to see more cute and cuddly animals, he pulled out a rat snake, causing several people to back up quickly.
Dally was like a child at show and tell. He introduced each animal talked about its unique characteristics to educate his audience.
Another frequently-visited booth was the Tastefully Simple display where Lara Carter, a consultant for the food business, offered many samples of dips, sauces and marinades. Carter, a first time vendor at the Friendship Connection, has only been in business for three months and found the event a great way to advertise. She also met new people and got to see a small part of the base. The Albany native felt this was the best way to kick-start her new business endeavor and hopes she is invited back next year.
As attendees made their way around the circle of booths, they found two massage clinic representatives appropriately placed at the end. Shanna Oliver, Albany Therapeutic Massage Clinic student massage therapist, rubbed the aches and pains the sore muscles of those who sat in the massage chair.
Cpl. Daryl Rogers, the base commander's driver, was one of the many attendees who visited Oliver's chair. After only a brief massage, Rogers said he felt relaxed and refreshed.
"This event offers a diverse selection of things that you wouldn't see unless you spent all day, or maybe all week going to different businesses in Albany," said Brown. "This [the Friendship Connection] puts everything in one building for people to enjoy."