By Lisa Joy
Blackfalds is a bedroom community, so we need to work together to keep our consumers shopping in Blackfalds on their way to and from work in Red Deer.” — Chrystal Smith, Blackfalds and District Chamber of Commerce President
Blackfalds and District of Commerce’s new President Chrystal Smith plans to spend the next couple of months building community awareness.
Smith, who owns Nurture Salon and Spa, took over as president this month, replacing outgoing President Carlene Kowalchuk.
“It is important for the residents in Blackfalds to know what the Chamber of Commerce is and how it affects the local economy.”
Smith noted that the chamber’s Annual Spring Meet and Greet on March 3 is an opportunity for the business community to learn more about the benefits of joining the chamber.
“We are hoping to have some new faces in attendance. The value in the chamber is huge for businesses and it is unfortunate that many businesses in the Town of Blackfalds are unaware of exactly what a Chamber of Commerce represents, its objectives and the the value it adds to every business, big or small, home-based or brick and mortar. This is something I want to work with quickly. We all want the current businesses to stay in business and thrive.”
Blackfalds and District Chamber of Commerce has almost 100 members and Smith aims to increase that number.
“I know by creating more awareness and involving the community, we can increase this number significantly in the next year.”
The chamber recently held round table talks with local business owners and a recurring issue was keeping businesses local.
“Blackfalds is a bedroom community, so we need to work together to keep our consumers shopping in Blackfalds on their way to and from work in Red Deer. This amazing community is very supportive of shopping local. The consumer simply needs to know they can use the services or buy their goods at X location, which just happens to be down the street. These are both two issues that should be relatively easy to address.”
Smith said she has some ideas to help promote local businesses.
“Exposure is extremely important so I have some ideas to present to the executive board. The chamber is currently working on expanding our website to include a directory for chamber members and other value added features.”
To accommodate more members, the Blackfalds and District Chamber of Commerce plans to have morning and evening meetings.
“This was something the previous president and the executive committee were considering changing in the future,” said Smith. “Now we have more of a reason to make a decision and move forward. We are hoping we can have a mix of mornings and evenings to accommodate everyone and drive participation.”
New to the business world, Smith started Nurture Salon and Spa in Blackfalds November 2014 but she has embraced her new challenge.
“I have lots of ambition and way too many ideas for my own good (as my friends joke daily). And this is very important to a growing chamber like Blackfalds. Starting my own business, I needed to be surrounded by like minded people. So when my Insurance Broker (Kevin, Vice President of the Blackfalds Chamber) Invited me to the Annual Meet and Greet three years ago, I was happy to attend. Even though I had no idea what the chamber was, I took a leap of faith. And here I am today because of it.
“Business is all about risk,” she added. “I know I have a lot on my plate with running a business full time, coaching staff, advertising, and a husband at home, But the chamber offers me the opportunity to encourage economic development in this amazing little town, by working with these like-minded, intelligent, sometimes witty but passionate business people. I am a very positive person believing in everyone and everything. Staying positive has kept me advancing forward, and I hope we can do that together in the next year with the Blackfalds Chamber.”
Smith doesn’t get much downtime and she often uses it to build her business and the community.
“I’m a busy body so I don’t rest well. I enjoy learning and taking extra education when possible. I work often during my off days, to try and keep things running smoothly.”
Crystal and her husband is Craig Smith, however, plan to take a trip to Halifax this fall to visit both of their families and celebrate 13 years together.
There’s not much that bothers the vivacious and easy-going Smith but if there is one thing that keeps her awake at night it’s likely to be garbage and recycling.
“The garbage and recycling lids on the garbage cans in the alleyway – oh my gosh,” she said.
On a more serious note she added, “Typically ideas that I really need to get off my chest and write down.”
Indeed, Smith has embraced Blackfalds and the community has reciprocated. If she could change one thing about Blackfalds she would like to see more residents employed locally.
“I would love for there to be more jobs in Blackfalds so we are completely sustainable and can live off everything our town offers. I wish there were a beach or a lake – only because I miss the sun shining on the water. And I wish there was a downtown presence in Blackfalds with little shops to shop in while eating an ice cream or sipping a freshly brewed coffee. But I wouldn’t change anything – just keep building on what we have! The lake may be difficult.”