Jonathan Herbert stood at a booth in the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto. His work surrounded him — different-sized canvases with strokes of red and brown, and green and yellow. Several people passing by glanced over curiously.
“Art lifts the soul. If you buy the art you love, you will never go wrong. If you buy to invest, you’re coming at it from the wrong place, especially everyday people buying art,” the 64-year-old said. “It lifts the soul, and it informs your life.”
The Sarasota fine artist was at last week’s Chamber Expo 2016 for Manatee and Sarasota counties, one of many seeking exposure for their work and products and hoping to reach members of the community with their services. The event is held annually in partnership with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. The event featured hors d’oeuvres from eateries such as Sonny’s BBQ, Cedar Reef Fish Camp in Bradenton and Culver’s of Sarasota.
“It’s a way to showcase our members to the community, to other chamber members and, again, cultivate that relationship of ‘Buy local, buy chamber,’ ” said Brittany Lamont, the director of communications & events for the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. “This year we had 160 member booths of one or both chambers, and so they’re showcasing their products, their services.”
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I’m here also to say art in your workplace will improve the bottom line, worker morale. It will inspire conversations that might lead to new ideas to help the company grow or unfold.
Jonathan Herbert, artist
For Herbert, the Chamber Expo provided an opportunity for people to get to know him.
“I’m also looking for companies that want to add my art to their offices and so forth,” he said. “I’m here also to say art in your workplace will improve the bottom line, worker morale. It will inspire conversations that might lead to new ideas to help the company grow or unfold.”
Jenna McCoy, 28, stood at a booth by the entrance of the convention center for Lets Jump Events, the Sarasota-based party rental company she co-owns. On the table before her were books filled with activities and concessions the business provides. There was a trackless train, a rock wall, carnival booths and glitter tattoos.
“We do everything from birthday parties to company picnics, employee appreciation ... anything fun, we do it,” McCoy said. “(The expo) puts business owners and people of the community together to meet without it being really high-pressure sales. It’s more of just like introducing yourself and showing off what you do but without that cold-calling or hard sale.”
McCoy had yet to secure any new clients at the expo.
“But I’m sure we’ve met some wonderful people, so I think some will be in the future,” she said with a smile.
It’s a way to showcase our members to the community, to other chamber members and, again, cultivate that relationship of ‘Buy local, buy chamber.’
Brittany Lamont of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce
The expo marked Brittany Griffin’s second time participating. The 30-year-old administrative assistant for Heart2Heart Helping Hands, a companion and homemaker service agency with offices in Ellenton and Sarasota, said she was there to meet new people and help her mother’s business gain exposure.
“And have a great time. I love meeting new people, seeing new faces, new businesses,” the Ellenton resident said. “I think it’s important for businesses to come together and to basically get your name out there.”
Peggy Myers, who previously managed a post office in Holmes Beach with business partner Jack Jackson, walked around slowly through an expo aisle. Both she and Jackson held tote bags with promotional materials.
“We try to keep up with everything that’s happening in town and the chamber is something we follow,” Myers said. “There’s a lot of new businesses that we’re not aware of. We don’t necessarily need them, but there are some services — the catering people are great when we have a party and some of the people to help around the house and all that kind of stuff. We’re picking up all that kind of stuff now ... and you never know, we may go back in business again.”