Camas tries to start a ‘revolution’

Merchants, residents greet ‘Small Business Revolution’ reality show crew

Camas High School students (left to right) Ally Kane, Sami Holm, Julia Watson and Hannah Upkes sing "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Please Mr. Postman" during a Jan. 2 reception for executives, photographers and film crew members associated with the online series, "Small Business Revolution -- Main Street."

Former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen (left) talks with Cameron Potts (right), vice-president of public relations of Deluxe Corporation, during a Jan. 2 reception at Grains of Wrath Brewing.

Hundreds of people recently gathered in downtown Camas with the hope of impressing representatives from the online reality show, “Small Business Revolution — Main Street.”

Camas is in the running to be featured on the show’s fourth season and win $500,000 worth of downtown business renovations and improvements.

The show’s executives, photographers and film crew members talked with downtown Camas supporters, during a reception that resembled a pep rally, on Jan. 2, at Grains of Wrath Brewing.

A quartet of Camas High School students — Ally Kane, Sami Holm, Julia Watson, Hannah Upkes — sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “Please, Mr. Postman,” after Amanda Brinkman, the chief brand and communications officer at Deluxe Corporation, which hosts “Small Business Revolution — Main Street,” entered the brewpub.

“I want to thank you guys for not only tonight, but the incredible reception that you’ve been pouring out online,” Brinkman said. “Before we even got here, we heard your excitement for Camas and we saw how passionate you guys are — not just about this community — but the small businesses within it, and for us, that is the entire point.”

Many of the attendees, including Camas Mayor Shannon Turk, her daughter, Lanie, and grandson, Taven, wore black T-shirts, emblazoned with #mycamas, on the front of the shirts.

Turk had visited with Brinkman and Cameron Potts, vice president of public relations at Deluxe, at the Georgia-Pacific mill interpretive center, earlier that afternoon.

Turk said Brinkman knew she had recently been appointed as mayor.

“They have done their research, and it was very impressive how much they actually know about our community,” Turk said.

Brinkman purchased an ornament at Camas Antiques.

“I think they were just interacting (with merchants), just like a regular shopper would,” Turk said.

Former Camas Mayors Nan Henriksen and Scott Higgins also attended the Jan. 2 reception, organized by the Downtown Camas Association (DCA).

“It was a mighty example of the connectedness and engagement in our community,” DCA Executive Director Carrie Schulstad said. “We consider it a success in showing the team the feel and culture of our town, along with a genuine hometown welcome.”

Grains of Wrath hosted the reception, with Cake Happy contributing cupcakes and Hidden River Roasters donating coffee for the attendees.

Schulstad said she hopes local businesses and residents will continue posting comments about what makes Camas and its small businesses unique and valuable, using #mycamas on the Small Business Revolution’s Facebook and Instagram sites.

Maria Gonser, owner of Attic Gallery, said she nominated Camas’ downtown for consideration because she enjoys the show and thought the city would be a good fit.

The competition started with 12,000 communities nominated for the show. In November, the field narrowed to 20. Show executives announced the top 10 towns live in December.

The Small Business Revolution team is visiting the other nine finalists throughout January — Camas was their first stop — and will announce which towns made the “top five” in mid-February. After that, there will be a weeklong public vote, and the winning town will be announced toward the end of February.

Season four of the eight-part series will air in fall 2019 on Hulu. If Camas is selected as the featured city, the show will give six businesses in downtown Camas “makeovers” worth a total of $500,000. Some of the funds will pay for general downtown improvements.

In the meantime, small business owners are invited to attend a free seminar presented by Deluxe, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, April 29, at Journey Church. To register, visit deluxe.com/sbrc/marketing/deluxe-small-business-seminar-camas-washington.

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