Oh ‘W.O.W.’!

1st W.O.W. Pop-Up Business Expo impresses

  • During W.O.W. — A Pop-Up Business Expo, Marie Claire Smith, left, and Debby Funk, owner of Embroidery Boutique, showed attendees what could be embroidered. - Tammy Cheek

  • Eliya Kachelmyer checks out Rosie’s Farmhouse Life booth. - Tammy Cheek

  • Ventrioquist and balloon expert Ron Lighty entertained attendees by making balloon phones that talked back. - Tammy Cheek

  • From left, Jessica Moore, Alllie Kaemmerer and Studio 135 owner Lori DeVault - Tammy Cheek

  • From left, Richard Rinehart, Karen Schaffer and Candace Viox - Tammy Cheek

  • Cindy Kraus, left, and Marsha Patterson of Engel & Volkers Knoxville - Tammy Cheek

  • Jim O’Brien and Megan Belcher - Tammy Cheek

  • Daniel Monday, left, and Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker - Tammy Cheek

  • From left, Cindy Chan, Wayne Sellars and Jeanne Sellars - Tammy Cheek

The Farragut community made the scene at W.O.W. — What’s Out West — A Pop-Up Business EXPO, where more than 100 vendors showcased their products and services, in the old SteinMart store in Village Green shopping center Wednesday, April 20.

The event, a brainchild of Shop Farragut/Farragut Business Alliance and Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce and presented by TDS Telecom, offered vendors in the financial, food and beverage, real estate, home maintenance, pet care industries and more.

“The EXPO was a resounding success in that we — Shop Farragut and the Farragut West Knox Chamber — were able to bring alive a dormant property in Village Green shopping center, even for just a few hours in an exciting way,” Shop Farragut executive director Steve Krempasky said. “We achieved goals of showcasing over 100 businesses, both old and new, to approximately 500 local residents, some of whom are very new to West Knoxville and even Tennessee. 

“The one-on-one interaction and the business-to-business activity was totally engaging over the four-hour event,” he added. “A great mix of business categories and services helped diversify the affair.

“Speaking on behalf of the Farragut Business Alliance board of directors, it was a pure delight to partner with Julie Blaylock and her amazing team at Farragut West Knox Chamber on this wonderful community event.”

“It’s going really good — great turnout,” said Beverly Sellars, owner of The Shoppes at Homespun. “This is a really good event.”

By having a booth at the Expo, “we were hoping people would get to know we’re out here — for the ones who don’t know,” she added. “We’re hoping to draw people in so they can see what we have to offer.”

“I think it’s awesome,” said Leslie King of Knoxville Thermography. “It’s a great way to meet other small businesses, learn about what’s in your community, make good connections, and it’s a great way to refer one another, too.”

Blaylock, FWKCC president/CEO, also estimated at least 500 attended over the course of the expo, where there were 109 vendors.

“The feedback we got at the event, and since then, has been overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “Vendors and sponsors alike were impressed with the professional set up, the amount of space and the layout and diversity of businesses represented.

“Many of our business attendees, and even vendor staff who got to walk around and network, said they made tons of great connections with people they had never met, and others they had not interacted with in a really long time, which makes the Chamber really happy, considering how heavily we promote relationship building as part of building business.”

“Congratulations to the Farragut West Knox Chamber for an outstanding business expo,” an e-mail from Knox County Mayors’ Office to Blaylock stated.

“Several of our small businesses and sponsors were pulled in to be interviewed live on air with Hallerin Hilton Hill, and for many of these new entrepreneurs starting out, that provides a really valuable marketing and confidence building opportunity,” Blaylock said.

In a follow-up survey from FWKCC, a few participating vendors stated the following:

• “We made so many new connections and re-enforced other relationships that we have already built through the Chamber.”

• My favorite part was that individuals could comfortably approach any business without any sales pressure. It was a great way for our community to start a relationship in a fun environment.”

• “The event layout was great and the amount and quality of vendors was top notch.”

Krempasky said, “I believe we would like to hold another ‘Pop-Up Expo,’ but the conditions of available space and time will have to be met.”

“Steve and I still have to call a ‘post-event breakdown’ meeting to put our heads together on what we liked and what we’d love to make even better, but the Chamber staff and board directors all received requests for whether this event can happen again next year so... stay tuned,” Blaylock said.

“The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and a majority of the vendors asked us when we would host this event again,” Krempasky said.

“Therefore, it is hard to say what the next Expo would look like and most importantly, where,” he added. “If anything, this event exposed a need for large event space in the greater Farragut area.”