Category Archives: Chamber Blog

Award-winning Lakeshore Art Festival announces call for artists

The award-winning Lakeshore Art Festival is now accepting fine art and craft applications for the 2020 festival taking place Friday, July 3 and Saturday, July 4, 2020.


Lakeshore Art Festival has a “blind jury process.” Every year, a group of industry professionals, artists and crafters review each entry, not knowing who the applicant is (i.e. blind jury). Jurors rely solely on the images and body of work provided by the applicants and score each applicant based on standards of quality, uniqueness and handcrafted appeal. Applications are ran through the online Zapplications program and can be accessed via


Lakeshore Art Festival continues to rank in the Top 200 Best by the Sunshine Artist Magazine, coming in #21 this year. The Lakeshore Art Festival has also been recognized by the Grand Haven Tribune as People’s Choice Award: #1 Art Festival in West Michigan and as one of the Best Art Fairs in America by


The Lakeshore Art Festival has worked hard to be a socially and environmentally sustainable festival that focuses on the triple bottom line. Accomplishments towards the triple bottom line are tracked and recorded through the Lakeshore Art Festival Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Highlights for this year’s report include:


  • Muskegon County received $1.59 million dollars of direct economic impact in 2019 and a total $7.2 million dollar of economic impact since 2014.
  • 9,436 pounds of material have been diverted from the landfill and 2,500 single-serve water bottles have been avoided, by adding refillable water stations.
  • 300 local volunteer opportunities have been provided and $22,550 has been awarded to artists and non-profits.



“Our mission is to provide an inclusive, artful event for all to enjoy.  Guests, artists and crafters come from all over the country to enjoy the beauty of our Muskegon Lakeshore area, experience our artful environment and visit our unique businesses. We are thankful for them and for our welcoming community!” said Carla Flanders, Lakeshore Art Festival Director.


Fine artist and crafter exhibitors that would like more information or want to apply for the 2020 Lakeshore Art Festival can visit


Muskegon Lakeshore Home, Garden + DIY Show opens exhibitor registration

The popular Muskegon Lakeshore Home, Garden + DIY show is returning to Fricano’s Event Center March 13 and 14, 2020.  Last year, booth spaces sold quickly, so interested businesses are encouraged to apply early.


The 2020 Muskegon Lakeshore Home, Garden + DIY show will feature over 50 exhibitors including everything from windows, siding, gutters, and painting to home décor, furniture, landscaping and much more! A show favorite, the Do It Yourself seminars will be back again this year. The Do It Yourself seminars will highlight floral design, furniture refurbishing, backsplash tiling, gardening and more!


“Last year, we expanded the footprint of the Muskegon Lakeshore Home, Garden + DIY show,” says Home Show Event Director, Kristin Knop. “With the larger space, we are able to offer a larger variety of exhibitors to all of our attendees. We are looking to put on another great show this year!”


“I love that it grew from last year. I hope that it keeps growing!” – 2019 Guest Attendee


“Great atmosphere. Friendly and inviting.” – 2019 Guest Attendee


“Muskegon puts on the BEST home, garden DIY show that I have ever participated in.” – 2019 Show Exhibitor


Those interested in applying to exhibit are encouraged to visit Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For sponsorships or additional information about the show, contact Kristin Knop at 231.724.3182 or

Chamber Classic golf outing raises $4,500 for Muskegon Silent Observer Program

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce promotes community safety through the Muskegon Silent Observer Program. With over 60 teams and dozens of volunteers, this year’s Chamber Classic golf outing, held at Chase Hammond Golf Club, raised $4,500 for the Muskegon Silent Observer Program. This is the largest amount raised to support the Silent Observer Program from the Chamber Classic.


“This additional funding will enable the Silent Observer Program to enhance marketing efforts throughout Muskegon County and provide additional funding for tips payouts,” said Tom Schultz, Silent Observer committee Chairman. “The number of tips received by Silent Observer, and the amount of rewards paid out for crimes solved, have increased significantly over the past several years. I’m confident that this additional funding will help to continue that momentum for the Silent Observer Program.”


The Silent Observer Program is funded by private donations and contributions from the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. To find more information or to make a donation visit


To submit information on a crime call Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME (7463), download the P3 Tips app on your Android or Apple device, or visit

New Business Association in Muskegon Heights

A new business association has formed in the city of Muskegon Heights. The Muskegon Heights Business Association is a group of businesses, large and small, who have joined forces to create a “united voice” for a supportive business climate. Their intention is to build a thriving business community in this important core city.


“Any business owner or key organization decision-maker is welcome to attend our meetings,” says Association chair Jack Russell, President of Rolar Products. The group meets monthly to discuss the needs of businesses.


“Right now, we are focused on promoting the job opportunities located in Muskegon Heights,” says Russell. In October, local manufacturers are working with local school officials to organize facility tours for students of Muskegon and Muskegon Heights Academy Public Schools. This event may be the first of many business tours in the area.


The first project of the association took place last spring, when members helped on a clean-up day for Rowan Park.  The association members are eager to support other clean-up projects in Muskegon Heights and along Sherman Blvd.


The group also plans to work closely with city officials, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber, and Muskegon Area First to advocate for better roads and new development.


There is no cost to join the group because the administration is being managed by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. “Our chamber has a number of members in Muskegon Heights, so this was a natural partnership to support businesses in the area,” according to Morgan Carroll, Advocacy and Manufacturing Manager for the Lakeshore Chamber.

Chamber President Cindy Larsen helps to expand cruise ships on the Great Lakes

Stephen Burnett likens the process of bringing cruise ships to dock at the Port of Indiana to birthing an elephant.


The process takes 18 to 36 months and includes creating a “shopping list” of things for visitors to see during excursions once they get off the ship, Burnett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, said.


“What you’re trying to do is break into an existing industry with established patterns,” Burnett, who oversees the coalition from an office in Kingston, Ontario, said, adding the dunes, agritourism and wineries all could be a draw. “It’s a process and you have to work it.”


Continue reading at Chicago Tribune.

Brianna T. Scott recognized as the 2019 ATHENA On The Lakeshore Award recipient

Brianna T. Scott

Brianna T. Scott, Attorney/Member-Owner at Brianna T. Scott & Associates, PLLC, was honored as the 2019 ATHENA on the Lakeshore Award Recipient. The announcement was made today at the annual luncheon celebration, held at the Spring Lake Country Club. The ATHENA awards are presented annually to recognize outstanding lakeshore women who have demonstrated excellence in their business or profession, have provided valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in their community, assist women in reaching their full potential and exhibit the spirit of regional collaboration.


Brianna T. Scott, Attorney/Member-Owner at Brianna T. Scott & Associates, PLLC began practicing law in 2000 and was the first African American attorney hired by the Muskegon County Prosecutors office. Five years later, she started her own practice to become the only female minority-owned law firm on the Lakeshore. The time and commitment to her career did not stop her from giving back to the community.  She was the first African American President of the Muskegon Rotary Club and as co-chair of the Rotary Diversity and Inclusion committee, she spearheaded new events to engage the entire community under the theme “Love Lives Here”. Her latest achievement exemplifies her loyalty to Spartans and the safety of women and social justice, as she has won a position on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.


The ATHENA on the Lakeshore program also recognizes a Young Professional Recipient each year. Abby Selby, CPA at Selby Tax and Accounting, was honored as the 2019 ATHENA on the Lakeshore Young Professional Award Recipient. An entrepreneur at heart, Abby has a passion for business prosperity and building relationships as a business owner and volunteer for many charitable events.


The recipients are chosen by a selection committee composed of representatives from the participating Chambers and community business leaders. Nine finalists and ten young professional finalists were recognized at the luncheon, which was attended by over 300 regional community and business leaders.

Kathleen Riegler, The Cheese Lady, will be the keynote speaker at the annual ATHENA on the Lakeshore award luncheon

Kathleen Riegler, The Cheese Lady, will be the guest speaker for the 15th Annual ATHENA on the Lakeshore Award luncheon. Kathleen’s small business has grown to become a woman-owned franchise across the state of Michigan. Join us to learn about her personal journey to success on the lakeshore. The luncheon will be held on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at the Spring Lake Country Club (17946 N. Fruitport Rd., Spring Lake, MI 49456.)


The ATHENA awards are presented annually to recognize those who have demonstrated excellence in their business or profession, have provided valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in their community, assist women in reaching their full potential and who exhibit the spirit of regional collaboration. This year we celebrate nine ATHENA Award Finalists and 10 ATHENA Young Professional Award Finalists.


2019 ATHENA Award Finalists
Michelle Anthes, McShane & Bowie, PLC
Tabatha Barber-Duell, MHPP- North Ottawa Women’s Health
Kathryn Drake, Grand Haven Area Public Schools
Karen Fredricks, Multistate Insurance Agency
Cara L. Galbavi, Cara Galbavi Law
Poppy Sias Hernandez, Community Affairs, Governor Whitmer
Judith Kell, Mercy Health Muskegon
Brianna Scott, Brianna T. Scott & Associates, PLLC
Barbara Lee VanHorssen, Extended Grace/Momentum Center for Social Engagement


2018 ATHENA Young Professional Award Finalists
Sara Barco, True Self Consulting LLC
Samantha M. Ferguson, MPA, Community Foundation for Muskegon County
Lauren Grevel, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation
Courtney Jackson, Muskegon Museum of Art Catherine Mott, Muskegon Museum of Art
Tina Orchard, ChoiceOne Bank
Morgan Rescorla, Best Financial Credit Union/County Teachers Insurance Agency
Holly Schroeder, Manpower
Abby Selby, Selby Tax & Accounting PC
Kara Zielinski, United Way of the Lakeshore

Reservations are required for the Tuesday, October 1, 2019 event. Cost to attend is $35 per person for Chamber members, $55 per person for non-members or $400 for a corporate table of eight. A portion of the proceeds supports local leadership programs. Reservations can be made by visiting or calling the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce 231.722.3751.

Lakeshore Art Festival ranks nationally and gives back to the community

This year, the Lakeshore Art Festival was again recognized as one of the nation’s best art festival by Sunshine Artist Magazine’s 200 Best. The ranking is divided into the 100 Best Fine Art & Design Shows and the 100 Best Classic & Contemporary Shows, the Lakeshore Art Festival place 21st out of 100 Classic & Contemporary Shows.


Sunshine Artist Magazine, known for its high-quality content in the fine art and craft industry, ranks the nation’s most-profitable fine art and craft festivals based on the sales performance of its exhibitors. Each year exhibitors can vote for their top 10 shows during the year, based on the amount of sales. The top shows were selected based on the number of ballots they were listed on, as well as the total score they earned based on the reported sales.


“This year was a hot one!” said Lakeshore Art Festival Director, Carla Flanders. “Even with the high temperatures, the community came out to support all the exhibitors. If it wasn’t for our amazing community, we wouldn’t be able to put on such a great festival and be recognized on a national level.”


In 2019, the Lakeshore Art Festival provided over $22,000 to local non-profit organizations and artists involved in the festival. Local organizations that benefited include; Boys & Girls Club, Muskegon Big Red Football Team, Read Muskegon, Nuveen Art Center, Muskegon JCI and the Salvation Army. Since 2013, the festival has provided nearly $180,000 in cash back to the local community. This year’s festival had an impact of almost $1.6 million to the Muskegon Lakeshore economy with an overall impact of $7.2 million over the last seven years.


The Lakeshore Art Festival continues its social responsibility by focusing on the triple bottom line. A report will be available with full details in the coming months.


Major sponsors for the Lakeshore Art Festival include: DTE Energy Foundation, Nichols, Betten Baker, Arconic, Northern Machine Tool, Meijer, Eagle Alloy and LeafFilter. A full list of sponsors and details for 2020 exhibitor applications can be found online at:

Learn, network, and gain business tools at the chamber orientation

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce will be holding a free chamber orientation on Wednesday, Sept. 11 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Business organizations such as nonprofits, entrepreneurs, business startups, and current chamber members interested in learning more about the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce are encouraged to attend.


Come join the chamber for 90 action-packed minutes that will cover what the role of the chamber of commerce is in Muskegon County as well as: chamber events, marketing, communications, cost-savings programs, and membership benefits.


Attendees will meet with chamber staff members who will be able to connect them to business resources and discuss ways to help grow their business by maximizing a chamber membership.


The chamber orientation is also a great way to connect and expand your network with new businesses, and other chamber members while learning about the latest business happenings along the Lakeshore.


The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is located at 380 W. Western Ave., Suite 202, Muskegon, MI 49440.


To RSVP or for more information please visit

Law of reciprocity: how understanding it can help you get more sales

How the Law of Reciprocity Brings More Sales


Quid pro quo. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Do unto others as you would like done unto you. These are all ways to say that if you help others, you’ll receive the same treatment from them.


This isn’t just fancy manipulation to get your way. There’s psychological science/research behind it. It’s called the Law of Reciprocity and understanding it can help improve your business and sales.


In this article, you’ll learn what it is and how to best practice it. Once you do, you’ll see a lot of what you’re giving to other businesses comes back to you.


What is the Law of Reciprocity?


The Law of Reciprocity simply explained is that when someone does something for you, you feel obligated to reciprocate or do something in return for them.


You’ve likely experienced this in your personal life. For instance, when you pick up the tab at lunch for you and your friend, if they are a good person, chances are they’ll pick up the tab the next time you go out. Most people will feel obligated and at least offer to do so.


But the Law of Reciprocity extends past just personal relationships where people know each other well. It also extends to donations, business, and sales situations.


Law of reciprocity in action: helping someone out and they will help you.

The Law of Reciprocity in Practice


Do you remember the Hare Krishnas? The religious group spread their message at airports and public gatherings. Like most religious organizations, they had papers that they handed out.


They found very few people took the papers, donated money, or listened to their message.




They began giving gifts. A flower, a book, a prayer card…and suddenly the same people who walked by them without giving them any attention were now stopping and giving money.


But this isn’t an anomaly.


Robert Cialdini, the “Godfather of Influence.” found that when mints were given with the restaurant bill that tips went up an average of 3.1%.


The Law of Reciprocity also works among complete strangers. Philip Kunz, a former sociologist at Brigham Young University performed a study in 1974 where he sent Christmas cards to 600 strangers.


He received more than 200 replies, some of them as long as 4-pages. And the reciprocity continued once the pattern was initiated. Kunz received some of these yearly Christmas card responses for up to 15 years.


People feel obligated to reciprocate even when they don’t know the person initiating.


So how can you put the law of reciprocity to work for you?


Using the Law of Reciprocity to Increase Business


If you want more interest in your business, you can use the Law of Reciprocity to make it happen. But you must act first (initially). Here are a few ways you can do that:


law of reciprocity - giving a gift of a brown paper package tied in string
  1. Post about your experience with another business on social media. Tag them and tell your audience how much you enjoyed their service or product.
  2. Offer coffee or other free food or drink when potential customers enter your business.
  3. Give out swag to incentivize purchases.
  4. Make samples available. People often feel obligated to buy after receiving a sample.
  5. Demonstrate how well your product works on your potential buyers. Ever walk by a mall kiosk and someone tries to invite you over to sample their moisturizer? They do this because chances are if you experience the product and like it, you’ll buy at least a small size of the product.
  6. Give free food to people who could potentially order from you or partner with you, especially other businesses. Ask a doctor’s office staff how often they get lunch catered by pharmaceutical sales reps. Pharmaceutical salespeople do it because there’s ROI in bringing in lunch.
  7. Introduce someone as an expert in their industry and build them up as such. They’ll likely return the favor.
  8. Give them attention and make them feel interesting. Ask questions and ask their opinion. They’ll do the same of you in the future.
  9. Give them the benefit of the doubt and the favor will be returned to you.
  10. Allow for a liberal exchange policy. They will value your product knowing you value them as customers.
  11. Act extremely appreciative of their purchases. Not only does it make people feel good when you appreciate them but they’re likely to buy more because you show such appreciation for it. Think about your own life. Who do you want to help? Someone who doesn’t seem to care when you go out of your way for them or someone who consistently thanks you for your efforts? The latter, of course.
  12. Use positive language and a soft, slow, even tone during customer complaints. They’ll likely calm their tone to match yours. It’s difficult to yell at someone who’s speaking kindly to you with lots of respect.
  13. Give them a name. Poor behavior often happens because people compartmentalize and don’t think about those around them. For instance, I used to work in the governor’s office fielding calls from constituents. I always knew I was in for a bad call when it began with “You people.” Because while that sounds like the caller saw me as a person, they didn’t. They had lumped me into the position of government hack, separate from their own human existence. And I knew I had to reestablish my humanity in their eyes before they would treat me that way. I had to build empathy. The same is true in waiting tables at a buffet. It’s easy for diners to forget the tip at a buffet if they see the person waiting on them as a faceless table busser. But if the waiter provides their name on an elegant card, diners soon realize that if they don’t tip or tip poorly, they’re doing it to that specific person. Always make sure your customers know they are dealing with a person with feelings and a name. Ensuring they know this will smooth over any difficulties in the situation.
  14. Offer free classes on how to use your product. They may buy an upgrade if they know you’re always there to support it and help them.
  15. Provide advice even if it doesn’t always benefit you. If you’re honest about a competing solution being a better one for them, they may not buy from you at that point. But they’ll remember your honesty and look to buy from you (or recommend you in the future) because they trust you and know you were straight with them even though it cost you the sale.
  16. Offer something for free if they buy today. Buying is often an emotional action. Usually, the Law of Reciprocity requires you to do something for them first before they’ll do something for you. But sometimes the offer to do something is enough to incentivize the sale. For instance, if you offer someone something extra when they buy from you they might do it. Car dealerships use free car washes, oil changes, TVs or vacations to get people to buy a car. We’ll give you this, if you buy from us and not the competition
  17. Offer free maintenance or checks of your product. If you sell a product that requires maintenance, think about offering free check-ups. This gives your customer peace of mind but also allows you to propose upsells and additional services. Keep in mind, you never want to offer things that don’t help your customer. If you make suggestions for maintenance or fixes they don’t need, they will feel taken advantage of.
  18. Host a free night of fun at your business as a thank you for your loyal customers. They will feel obligated to buy something as long as you don’t present the free night of fun as an infomercial for your product. Don’t be salesy.
  19. Throw a wine tasting or open house. Again, people will enjoy the wine and buy from you.
  20. Offer limited free advice. Give customers (limited) free advice or free use of your services. Make it clear what they get for free and what parts are a paid service. You might be surprised how people will use the free service and later upgrade because of reciprocity.

How to Use the Law of Reciprocity in Advanced Situations


There are two kinds of uses for the Law of Reciprocity.


There are the immediate benefits like a larger tip when mints are provided and there’s the kind that builds credit as a “savings account” that you can later draw on.


Law of reciprocity and social capital as demonstrated by a little piggy bank.


The tips listed above mainly produce instantaneous action by the customer or potential customer. But some actions produce long-term effects. When you build up credit with your audience by helping them know, like, and trust you, you can use the Law of Reciprocity on another level: a delayed one. This is also known as “social capital.”


  • Be a resource and give away all of your knowledge for free. Eventually, you’ll build up enough credit with your audience that they will do things that you ask.
  • Always ask for a favor. You’ll be surprised how often people will do something just because you ask for it. Most people are not conditioned to say no. Some may say, “well, that depends” and then when you reveal how basic the favor is, they’ll happily acquiesce.
  • Ask to pay what it’s worth. When you provide someone with a good or service and then ask them to pay what they think it is worth, very few people will choose zero. The Law of Reciprocity means that if they find even remote value from your good or service, they’ll pay something.

If you want to build your business and improve sales, one of the easiest ways is to become adept at the Law of Reciprocity. By giving away things, knowledge, expertise, advice, or anything else, people will often provide you with their attention and money.


Who couldn’t use more of that?


By: Christina R. Green