Many Oxford County companies have been forced to retool the way they do business over the past two years as a result of the pandemic. For Oxford County and Area Expos, it was COVID-19 that led to its creation.
The company was born in February of this year and is operated by Kortney Klossen who came up with the idea thanks to COVID-19. It holds virtual and in-person expos highlighting local vendors and offers those attending a unique shopping experience. She says the business is the result of lockdowns that meant her usual job wasn’t as busy. “I work at the Drumbo Pub as a server, and we were closed during a portion of the pandemic. We were thinking of other ways we could do something beneficial to Oxford County. We are a small business, been around for 19 years, and we are all about supporting local.” The company is owned by Peter Jones who also maintains the pub.
Kortney says what started off as a one-off event has grown into something special. “I just wanted to hold one event and see what happened. I had a clothing line I was trying to promote which led me to networking with so many other businesses I decided to help us all. I was at first geared to inspiring women’s entrepreneurship, but it has grown bigger, and we have some great vendors who are men.”
The first event was held online, the Women’s Oxford County Expo, and was a tremendous success so she kept on going. “We had 61 women sign up to be vendors. We did seven more virtual events then when restrictions were lifted in May we decided to rent some space and launch our first in person event.”
The more the number of vendors at an event the more diverse the product selection is. “You will find everything from candles to bath bombs, wood working and charcuterie boards, resin products, art and paintings, cleaning products, crystals, baked goods, and much more. Every market we have has several new and different vendors,” she says.
Anyone who knows Kortney has seen her videos online promoting events and giving out prizes. Social media has been a tremendous help for the business since day one. “We used a program called Hopin for our first virtual event. It created a real expo feel with a reception desk, vendor booths, and a main stage for presentations. We promoted the event on Facebook and Instagram which really is how we took off. I am starting to do print ads since some people come to the events who aren’t on social media. It wasn’t our intention to make a business out of this, so we are learning as we go.”
The only problem Kortney says she has is keeping up with the vendor applications. “They fly in every day. I promote from Oxford and the surrounding area and its absolutely amazing how many people have small businesses and the creative things they come up with.” The events are free for anyone attending. “It’s a night out, maybe a date night for people and see what’s happening in Woodstock or wherever the event is being held,” she adds.
The business has scheduled several markets before Christmas and the dates can be found on their website at https://sites.google.com/view/oxfordcountyandareaexpos/home.
Kortney says they have also booked a market to celebrate their first year in business. “We are planning for our one-year anniversary with another Women’s Expo taking place on February 20th at Millside Stables on the 16th Line in East Zorra-Tavistock. It will include one day of an in-person event and a day online. We will have giveaways for those attending and one for a free booth for a vendor. Lots of cool things will be happening!” As for the future of Oxford County and Area Expos, Kortney isn’t sure. “I don’t know. We will have to see where it goes. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants sometimes.”