Benefits of chamber questioned

Businesses are told that membership in the Chamber of Commerce is free. It is not.

Dear Editor:

Re:  Chamber Benefits

I am a music teacher, owner of Perry Music Studio and a licensed business operator in Summerland.  I would like to comment in response to the buzz around Business Week, Oct. 26 to 30.

A number of years ago, when membership in the Chamber of Commerce became mandatory, my business license fee was increased by 60 per cent overnight.

As a small business owner who wanted to operate legitimately in Summerland, I dug deep and paid up.

Businesses are told that membership in the Chamber of Commerce is free.  It is not.

Our higher license fees reflect a surtax to support the Chamber.

As a piano teacher, many of the “free” initiatives put on by the Chamber are of no use to me because the focus of my business is geared towards educating children.

I cannot participate in the Business after Business networking because that is when I am working.

I do not serve the tourist industry and my livelihood does not rely on bringing in customer traffic by advertising in other communities.

The health insurance benefit program is completely beyond my means and the “email blasts” that the chamber offers to its members only serves to hit other chamber businesses and targets a demographic that has no use for the services I provide.

To date, the only benefit I have received from the Chamber of Commerce was a comprehensive free listing on the website.

This was a tremendous boon as I do not have the means to provide and run my own private website.

Imagine my shock then, when I sent the parent of a potential new student to the “New and Improved” website and was informed that the information had vanished.  Imagine my outrage when, upon making inquiry to the Chamber about this lack, that I was informed I could pay “only” an extra $85 per year to have information about my business on this site.

Over the years I have been a small business owner in Summerland, I have paid what amounts to roughly two month’s earnings in business license fees.

Considering that the only initiative that was of benefit to my business, the website listing, is now only available for a yearly fee, I see little value for me to be a chamber member.

The chamber should provide free web-listings for its member businesses.  At the very least, provide a larger space than 200 characters.

If there are businesses that want and can afford a larger presence, then work out a variable size charge.

In the meantime, this member would like the Chamber of Commerce to get busy putting our money where it will help all of us.

 

Anita Perry

 

Perry Music Studio

Summerland