Saturday, December 5, 2015

Chamber moves out of long-time HQ

The Northwest Herald reported last week that the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce has sold its building.

What a shame. Previous Executive Directors and Boards of Directors ran the finances into the ground. The Chamber almost lost its building several years ago, because they had tapped out borrowing against the mortgage. The problem was they used the increasing equity to fund operations, instead of running the chamber out of revenues from membership dues and events of value to members and the public.

Over the years I worked for four chambers and was a member of three others. I remember calling on one gruff businessowner in Kansas City who asked me what he was going to get for his money.

"Three things," I said.

"First, you get this moth-eaten, pressed-board plaque. I have to put it up here by the front door, and I have to come back every 30 days to see if it has been dusted.

"Secondly, you get this dog-eared membership directory. Some of the companies are already out of business; some of the owners are dead; some businesses have moved, and some of the phone numbers are wrong."

"Anything else?" he asked.

"Yes, you get a canceled check from your bank in about 30 days."

Then he asked me what the people "up there" at the chamber of commerce office thought of him. He had been running ads about the crooked politicians and bureaucrats in state government and about the local crime rate.

"Sir, you wouldn't want me to tell you."

He said, "That's what I thought."

Why is the City of Woodstock providing rent-free space to a civic organization? That's wrong. What will they say when other groups come hat-in-hand?

The Chamber ought to move into the Woodstock Depot. That would a classy Chamber office!

If the Chamber provided real services to members, business owners would pay dues. The Woodstock Chamber never learned that lesson.

Take a look at the Chamber's webpage. To me, there is a clear example of very-likely trademark infringement. See the "Toys for Tots" wording. Toys for Tots is an annual event run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. But notice that toys from the Woodstock collection are going to the Woodstock Clearing House, a local Christmas gift event. This is one example of the nits that I use to pick with the Chamber, until they kicked me out.

Ever hear of a business owner getting kicked out of a Chamber because he complained about how the Chamber was being run? Instead of fixing the problems, the way business is done in Woodstock is that you get rid of the "messenger".

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