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Really Big Show draws crowd to Potsdam

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POTSDAM - Today could be a good day to purchase new gardening tools, browse through arts and crafts or even taste fresh fudge.

It’s all available at the fourth annual Really Big Show, the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce’s showcase for home and garden products and businesses.

Approximately 500 visitors showed up for the first day of the show at Clarkson University’s Cheel Arena. The show provides the opportunity for many types of businesses to reach a wider audience and boost their name recognition, according to chamber Executive Director Patricia McKeown. The event features 80 vendors and has grown since its inception three years ago, she said.

“Everyone puts on a happy face and shows the best of their wares and products,” Ms. McKeown said. “We are facing tough economic times in the St. Lawrence River Valley ... We know the key to turning the economy around is the success of small businesses.

“We try to strengthen our businesses, help businesses to expand, help businesses be successful at what they do,” she said. “The best way to do that is to showcase them in public.”

The show also provides businesses an opportunity to network with each other, she said. Businesses from neighboring counties also attend the show.

“Where else are you going to see 80 businesses all under the same roof, all showing off, strutting their stuff?” she asked.

Show organizer Jo Ann Roberts said there are few restrictions on which vendors can attend.

“Just about everybody qualifies,” she said. “We have everybody from the New York Power Authority to the cheesecake lady to the wineries.”

J. Phil Sheehan said attending the show benefits his business, Phil and Jackie’s Gift Shop in downtown Massena. Mr. Sheehan was selling 14 varieties of fudge at the show, from peanut butter to orange creme to amaretto chocolate, and giving out free samples to prospective customers. He estimated he would go through between 110 and 120 pounds of fudge at the show.

Even though Mr. Sheehan is meeting residents from all over the county at the show, his aim is to reach out to Massena residents who attend.

“There’s a lot of people from Massena who haven’t found our store yet,” he said.

David P. Charleson of Commercial Press in Canton said some of the show’s benefits appear months later.

“Sometimes you hear people say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen you at the show’ and it’s six months later,” he said. “It’s the direct face to face contact you can’t get on the internet.”

The show continues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Admission is $1.

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