Taking it to the streets

Third annual Folsom Business Walk a success
By: Jim Ratajczak, The Telegraph
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Economic times are tough and the Folsom Chamber of Commerce is sick and tired of it. So the business-savvy organization is taking it to the streets. In a nice way, of course. Wednesday was the third annual Folsom Business Walk. Members of the chamber turned out en masse to hit the pavement and meet-and-greet with businesses throughout the city. “We walk to different businesses in the community to see how they’re doing,” said Joe Gagliardi, chamber president. Armed with 100 goodie bags, answers and smiles, members focused their efforts on businesses along East Bidwell and Riley for an afternoon to meet with owners and extend the olive branch of friendship. “We try to reach out to Folsom businesses,” said Sue Field, chamber vice president of member services. “The questions we’re asking are, ‘How’s business? How are you doing in Folsom? How can the chamber help?’ It’s been very successful in the past.” Last year, Field estimates the walkers made it to 100 businesses. The routes changed for 2008 so the chamber could meet with even more business owners. “We passed out all the goodie bags and then made some more,” said Sharon Williams, of chamber visitor services. “I’d say we probably went to 120 different businesses.” Field said the walkers’ stops will include businesses of all kind within city limits – whether it’s an old or new one, the chamber plans on dropping by. “We need to hear their problems,” she said. “The new ones are paying high rent, the old ones aren’t getting the foot traffic. We just want them to know we care.” The Folsom Business Walk wasn’t about recruiting new chamber members, either. Although some new members enlisted, Field said the emphasis was on answering questions, offering help and showing Folsom businesses they have someone in their corner. “I think it is going to be more important than ever,” she said. “The surprising thing we hear is, ‘Nobody ever cared before.’ Sometimes we all need help and you just don’t know who to turn to.” “We realize we need to be there for our businesses in this tough time,” Gagliardi said. Now that the Business Walk is over, the chamber will turn its attention back to the numerous events it’s planning, including the rodeo. “Everything is coming along,” said Gagliardi. “We’re excited for what we’re going to have at the rodeo this year.” To help promote the annual event, Gagliardi said the chamber members themselves have decided to become walking advertisements. “In preparation of the rodeo, we’ve formed the ‘Chamber Posse,’” he said. “We go around promoting the rodeo dressed as cowboys.” But when you’re in the business of business, you do what needs to be done, even if it involves donning a Stetson. “We’re about finding the pulse of our businesses,” said Williams.