MORRISON – From day to day, Callie Hamstra works at Extreme Image Salon in Morrison.
However, her part-time position has her taking on the role as the Morrison Chamber of Commerce’s new director. A proud board member for four years, Hamstra steps into a position only two doors down from her full-time job.
The Morrison Chamber of Commerce, located at 221 W. Main St., is composed of local businesses and members that range from restaurants and storefronts to civic organizations and community members.
“I’ve been on the board for the Chamber for four years, and I’ve seen the ins and outs of the job,” she said. “We’ve been looking for somebody, and I just kept thinking to myself that maybe I’d be good for this job.”
She said serving part time at the Chamber works well.
“That’s where we struggled with keeping someone employed in the past, but it works for me because I can fill in the gaps of my schedule over there and do what I can with the hours that were provided,” she said.
As Chamber director, she helps with event planning for the organization and making people aware of the businesses Morrison has.
“I’m trying to revamp things,” she said. “We did a strategic meeting to figure out what we wanted out of the chamber, so it’s nice to get those perspectives. A lot of it is just how to execute the changes, so I’m working a lot on social media to share as much as I can about what is going on around town for all the businesses and our members.
“Right now, we promote when events come to town. It would be nice to come up with plans to get people into the storefronts, which luckily, we have a couple of people who have just purchased buildings. I’m just doing what I can when they need my help and what I can with the allotted hours. Hopefully, people are starting to get more out of their membership than they did before because we had a bit of a lapse when somebody left.”
She said community events are a major focus for her.
“My biggest thing is holding community events,” Hamstra said. “I would like to do a few like our pop-up markets because that brings in a lot of smaller farming, smaller businesses. We’re going to do a Small Business Saturday event on Nov. 25, and I’m trying to do an outside Chicago Market.
“Anyone in the area can come and set up their vendor tent and put their table out. We’re trying to do a kickstart to Christmas to promote shopping small. All the businesses are offered to be part of it too, so we can promote them online and do shopping gift guides. Then, we have the Christmas walk and we do an annual dinner for the Chamber every year. I’d like to do more pop-up markets this summer and see what else pops up as this year goes on.”
She said the last pop-up market did surprisingly well. “There was tons of attendance,” she said. “Same for the Halloween parade, which we put on, too. There were over 350 kids that came through.”
She said the Department of Fun, with block parties and other events, has put out there that the city is trying to do more fun things.
“I think this summer and fall, we had more events than we’ve had in a while, and they’ve been well attended as long as the weather is cooperative,” she said.
She said the Chamber will create a gift guide.
“So if you sign up as a business, we’ll come in and promote whatever you want to try and get people in and out of the store,” Hamstra said. “Sometimes people just don’t realize what is actually in the stores without visually seeing it. We’ve been at the salon for about 10 years, and we’ll still get people dropping by and saying that they didn’t know this was here. With the vendor market, it will hopefully get people who are usually not coming to town inside the building.”
Her long-term plan is growing the chamber and making it more of an information hub for the city.
“Ideally, I would like to partner either with the city or someone who can really revitalize Morrison,” she said. “Like Erie has really brought a lot of businesses downtown. You would really need a committee for that kind of stuff, so getting people to volunteer and get people to support their community would be really good.”
“I’ve noticed that Erie and Fulton – both are about the same size as us – have really seemed motivated to bring people to their town instead of outsourcing,” she said. “It would be nice to reach out to them to see how they got started, but I don’t know if that is a Chamber position or more of a city administrator position.”
The Morrison Chamber of Commerce’s office hours are 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.