By Sally Voth - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL - Front Royal and Warren County are back in business, if vendors at 2012 Tradefest are anything to go by.
Various businesses, including banks, communications firms, exterminators, Realtors, fitness centers and water companies, as well as Lord Fairfax Community College, the Red Cross, the Virginia Employment Commission, Front Royal Police Department, Warren County Fire and Rescue and other organizations were at the Holiday Inn & Suites Wednesday meeting potential clients, giving out prizes and freebies and networking.
The Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the 19th annual trade expo.
"It provides an opportunity for our regional businesses to showcase their products and services, not only to other businesses but to the public as well," Chamber President Niki Foster said. "It's going really well."
Although a couple attendees mentioned it seemed like there were fewer participants this year, Foster said there were the same number of vendors as last year's Tradefest, but a different layout may have made it seem otherwise.
Foster backed up claims from various vendors that their businesses were doing well.
"I think it's picking up," she said. "We're hearing a lot of positive things. People seem to be a little more positive about business and a little more up about what's going on in their particular businesses. The last couple of years seemed to be rough on everybody. People were a little discouraged, but that today seems to have shifted a little."
Press Start Video Games is doing so well it plans to open a new store next month in Kernstown, marketing manager Jeremiah Trocola said. The Front Royal-based store has another location in Warrenton, and has been around for more than four years, he said.
"We do everything all the way from Atari from the late 70s up until now," said Trocola. "We do tournaments inside the store. We're getting ready to do tournaments for the new Halo and the new Call of Duty."
The store sells new and used systems and games, does repairs, takes trades, sells video game accessories, hosts birthday parties and more. The Tradefest is a good way to get out the word about the store, Trocola said.
"It's good to come out here and shake some hands, meet some people, just let everybody know that we're here," he said.
Business also has been good for Century Link, which provides phone, high-speed Internet and Direct TV service to Warren, Page and Rappahannock counties, according to area plant supervisor Gary Tice.
"We've grown a great deal in this county with mainly high-speed data Internet access," Tice said.
Senior sales representative Troy Harding added, "A lot of new switches have opened up."
"We're reaching out further into the community with alternatives to dial-up [Internet service] and satellite," Tice said.
Harding said the company attends dozens of trade shows a year.
"Every year, [Tradefest] has been one of the most successful events that we do," he said. "We do 50-plus events a year, and this has got be in the top five every year."
Arlene Schimel with Best Exterminating brought along bug specimens, candies, stuffed rodents and plastic spider rings for her booth. She said she has seen a turnaround in the number of customers seeking help with household and outdoor pests.
"Two years ago, it was pretty rough," Schimel said. "It's slowly coming back. The bugs are with us always. Bed bugs have been real bad this year."
Felicia Hamilton was at the expo helping promote her mother's eco-friendly residential and commercial cleaning business, Green Clean w/TLC.
"She has a booming business," Hamilton said. "She's so busy. Even though people are tight on money, they still want their house clean."
Her mother, Tammy Carlyle, said she's been in business for three years.
"I'm so busy, I don't have enough staff to keep up with it," she said. "That's a good thing."