Business expo at Kent ShoWare Center connects local businesses with customers

Bill Riordan found the Allied Waste Services and Kent Chamber of Commerce Business Expo Wednesday at the ShoWare Center a good way to promote the new Mick Kelly's Irish Pub and Restaurant in Kent.

Candy Bouquet owner Staci Buss

Candy Bouquet owner Staci Buss

Bill Riordan found the Allied Waste Services and Kent Chamber of Commerce Business Expo Wednesday at the ShoWare Center a good way to promote the new Mick Kelly’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Kent.

“It’s gone real well,” said Riordan, one of 89 vendors at the second annual public event that covered the arena floor. “It’s a great opportunity to let people know we’re here.”

Mick Kelly’s opened Aug. 1 at the city-owned Riverbend Golf Course in Kent. The pub celebrated its grand opening Oct. 9.

“This coincides with the fact that we just opened our fourth location, so we’re doing this because it’s Kent related,” said Riordan, who is the sales and catering director for the Irish pub.

Potential customers walked from booth to booth to check out the variety of vendors and learn about their businesses.

Edward Sudderth staffed the booth for the Neptune Society in Kent, which offers pre-paid cremation services.

“It’s been great,” said Sudderth, a service manager for the Neptune Society about the crowds shortly after the expo opened at 11 a.m. “I’ve already had people come by who are members of the society and others who are interested in setting this up.”

Sudderth said people can set up cremation plans and services ahead of time to have everything covered when they die so relatives do not have to deal with planning services.

“If services set up ahead, it just takes one phone call,” Sudderth said.

Vendor Staci Buss hopes the expo helps boost her new Candy Bouquet business. The Kent resident recently bought a franchise that she operates out of her home. But she plans to open a store later this year along First Avenue in downtown Kent.

“It’s a magnificent marketing tool to get the name out there and the product,” Buss said. “It’s the first time many people have seen candy as an alternative to flowers. And candy doesn’t wilt or go bad.”

Candy Bouquet, based in Little Rock, Ark., has more than 500 locations around the world.

“It’s been around since 1989, but there are not a lot of franchises in Washington,” Buss said.

Shaugn Lindley attended the expo to promote Smith Brothers Farms, the Kent-based business that has delivered milk since 1920.

“We’ve been part of the Kent Valley for 90 years so we try to support anything in Kent we can,” said Lindley, a sales manager whose area covers Seattle to Auburn. “I’ve already had two customers sign up in the first hour.”

Smith Brothers makes weekly home deliveries of milk and other dairy products. Lindley worked one year as a milkman before moving into sales. The company serves more than 40,000 customers from Mount Vernon to Olympia, including many customers in Kent and Auburn.

“We’re giving away free samples and educating people about what we do,” Lindley said.

The expo ran from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and included a Taste of Kent for the final two hours that featured food from 10 Kent restaurants.

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