Local Vendors Form Group to Support Each Other\'s Businesses

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COLUMBIA - Local vendors from Columbia came together to support their businesses Thursday evening by creating a "Sip N Shop" event at Quinton's Bar and Deli. The vendors displayed their products, organized a raffle, and gave complimentary drinks and food to the customers.

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The event not only promoted local businesses in Columbia but was also a fundraiser for the Buddy Pack Program of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.The earnings will go directly to the food bank.

Matthew Essner is a vendor with Amway. "The Central Missouri Food Bank does an incredible job. It was very easy working with them in this event," he said.

Another vendor, Megan Moore sells Advocare products. "It is amazing to see how much the kids need it," Moore said. The Buddy Pack Program helps low-income elementary school kids get a backpack filled with food for the weekend.

The event was organized by the local venders themselves. "We all decided we could do this after we had coffee one day," Essner said. "And Quinton's was nice enough to let us come in and use their space."

Every member of the group donated money to provide the drinks, appetizers, and raffle tickets for the customers. They are planning on organizing these events twice a month and will pick a different charity each time. They say it's a way to showcase their products and make an impact in the community through fundraising for charities.

"There are a lot of people that maybe have home crafts and don't have marketing budgets or ways they can expose their product to new people," Essner said. "This is meant to give an opportunity to those poeple in an effort to promote their business."

"We are hoping to gain more momentum," he said. This is the first event the local vendors organized, but they are hoping others will join them for future events.