By Jeff Vorva
The Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce had to cancel its Community Expo in October, but Executive Director Felicitas Cortez and her crew have come up with a new concept for the expo that she hopes will keep residents shopping local.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people in the local business world hardship and they are hoping for a huge rebound during the holidays.
With that in mind, the chamber cooked up a virtual expo that started Sunday, Nov. 22, and will last until Dec. 19. The expo can be accessed at orlandchamber.org.
After 30 years of drawing in approximately 3,000 people per year for a five-hour stretch, the expo will take a different look and one that could be more convenient for consumers.
“COVID killed it, but we didn’t want to let the opportunity pass,” Cortez said. “We won’t let COVID beat us. It’s not what we wanted to be with live entertainment, giveaways and food samples, but this is the next best thing.
“Attendees can visit the vendors 24 hours a day, maybe with a glass of wine,” she added. “They can do a little bit of shopping or see what the services are that these organizations have to offer. It’s a different response to our changing times but we’re really pleased at what we assembled.”
The expo, which is sponsored by the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union, will offer a check-in card and consumers can find secret words in an exhibitor’s page. Those who find all 10 words are eligible for a drawing to win a $300 VISA gift card.
“The object is for attendees to visit these businesses virtually, gather all the words and figure out what the secret message is,” she said. “They will submit that electronically to the chamber. At the end, on the 19th, we will draw the grand prize winner.”
There is also a Festive Friday for a chance to win a $100 VISA gift card each week.
Exhibitors participating in the virtual expo from Orland Park are AAA The Auto Club Group, Bonefish Grill, Chicagoland Sanitizing and COVID Disinfecting, City Barbeque, Darvin Furniture and Mattress, Fox’s Orland Park Restaurant, Joe Rizza Ford-Porsche, Lake View Plaza, Little Milano’s Wood Fired Pizza, Maxim Maintenance, McAlister’s Deli, Minutemen Press, Nothing Bundt Cakes, the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce, Orland Park Crossing, Peoples Bank, the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union, Sterk Family Law Group, Simple Greek, Vegan T’ease and Webbed Feet Inc.
Those from other communities participating are the Barrel Club in Oak Lawn, Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau in Olympia Fields, Fabulously Sweet Creation LLC in Mokena, Mary Kay Cosmetics/Michele Halliburton of Country Club Hills, the Oak Forest Executive Center in Oak Forest, Ozinga in Mokena, Plows Council on Aging in Palos Heights, SAS Aesthetic Institute in Mokena, Shark Shredding and Document Management Services Inc. in Mokena, Siam Marina in Tinley Park, Southland Your Times in Munster, Indiana and the Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra in Frankfort.
“We need to keep our shopping dollars in town,” Cortez said. “We hope that the message comes across. We can’t keep going to these online portals like Amazon – it’s these small mom and pop businesses that need our assistance. They have always been there for community members when they needed a donation or a gift card or sponsorship. Now it’s time to give back to our local businesses.
“This is one way the chamber can assemble a group of local businesses for inspection.”