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11th Annual Women's Expo draws hundreds

Pam Penta of East Moriches helps customers pick

Pam Penta of East Moriches helps customers pick out perfume oils from her booth, Common Scents, at the 11th annual Women's Expo at the Middle Country Public Library. (Oct. 6, 2011) Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

Sandy Feinberg didn’t particularly like the necklace she put on when she got dressed Thursday morning, but she knew she’d find a replacement as soon as vendors began setting up at the 11th Annual Women’s Expo at the Middle Country Public Library.

Feinberg, the library’s director, said this year’s event was the largest yet with 81 vendors – all female entrepreneurs that live on Long Island.

“It’s a wonderful human event,” she said. “It’s just great and a lot of fun to shop.”

Feinberg found the necklace she was looking for early in the day; and in addition to jewelry, the roughly 2,000 shoppers expected to attend browsed through artwork, scented oils, homemade soaps, specialty teas, clothing and many handmade goods.

“And you can always count on the quality,” she said.

Feinberg said the library, with the help of many sponsors, started the expo as a way to support small business on Long Island and that vendors have always reported great results.

Farrah La Ronde-Hutchison, founder of Gaia’s Essence, a natural and organic living company, began her business about four years ago. It was her first time at the women’s expo, where she was laughing with customers, pouring tea from her own brand and explaining her organic spices.

“I’ve done amazing,” she said. “I think this is my best show yet. Women here are looking for options and I think they are amazed to find everything that’s here.”

Marsha Scherer, 65, of East Northport began selling handcrafted glass jewelry about four years ago. She does the work because she loves it, but even so, it’s hard to keep that kind of business floating in this economy.

“People don’t really have the money to spend on jewelry,” she said, adding that her pieces range in price from about $20 to $50.

She appreciates the Women’s Expo because of the quality of goods that are presented there. She said at some shows, items labeled as handmade look more like they were produced in a factory overseas and are sold at a price to match.

“It’s very hard to compete with a $3, $5 item,” she said. “But I’m not seeing that here.”

Lorraine Aycock, vice president of community relations for Bank of America, which has sponsored the Women’s Expo since its start, attends the event as much as a shopper as a supporter.

“Each time I come, I need to bring more money,” she joked.

She said the beauty of the event is evident just by walking around, browsing through the goods and speaking with the women behind them.

“It’s just fascinating,” she said. “To see the talent and the entrepreneurial spirit of the women, it’s incredible. It really speaks to the testament of Long Island and its diversity in all forms.”

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