In previous years, the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Expo has been held in the Brownwood Coliseum for a few hours of a single day.


With COVID affecting the plans of virtually every part of society, the chamber has come up with an alternative: the Virtual Business Expo, which will be from Aug. 17 through Sept. 3 . That’s 2 1/2 weeks.


"With 2020, everything’s proving to be a little challenging and a little off course," chamber membership director Kim Springfield said. "So we are going to be doing a virtual business expo. We are going to have a section on our website that will be the virtual exhibit hall, which will house a list of everyone who is in the showcase."


Beginning Aug. 17, 300 goody will be available at the chamber that have marketing material of the participating businesses. The material will include a map of the locations of participating businesses as well instructions on where to locate the business’ Facebook pages and websites.


"In order to win a door prize, they will have to either go and like that particular business’ Facebook page — like it and share it — and then if they purchase anything they can use that receipt," Springfield said. "There will be boxes at each of the locations that they can put their receipts in, and put their name and phone number on the back.


"People can go and shop at the different retail businesses and purchase things from them to be part of the drawing, or they can go and like on their Facebook page, or order from them online and have it shipped to them."


Springfield said the idea of the Virtual Business Expo resulted from the desire to support local businesses while respecting social distancing.


"I think this will be one of our better years because we’re going to hit a larger demographic than what we would typically hit being there at the coliseum," Springfield said. "It’s going to go for 2 1/2 weeks so people will be able to utilize their weekends, their evenings, their lunch hours. Downtown businesses will be able to see what other businesses have to offer and be involved with it that way. So we’re looking at having a much higher volume of participation — not only from community but from businesses as well."


When the expo has been held at the coliseum, there is a lot of setup, decorating, cleanup and standing and visiting with different people, Springfield said.


"Which which is good when we can do it," Springfield said. "But having it virtual, they will be able to hit a totally different dynamic."


When asked if the expo will likely return to its normal coliseum venue next year, Springfield said, "we don’t know. If this is as successful as what we believe it will be, who knows what we’ll do next year."


If a business wants to participate, Springfield said she can be reached at the chamber at 646-9535 or by email at membership@brownwoodchamber.org.