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Name-dropping often has negative connotations. Whether its aim is to impress or advance a person up the rungs of a social hierarchy, name dropping is seldom as fun for the recipient as it is for the name dropper. I can think of one example, however, when name-dropping is not only acceptable, it is golden! That’s when the names belong to members of the Kirkwood - Des Peres Area Chamber of Commerce. When we show up at Chamber events and make a commitment to “Shop Chamber First,” we find valuable resources for getting things done and strengthening our local business economy. Then it’s only natural to spread the good word by name-dropping. Let me show you what I mean.

Fueled by artist Mary Hanson’s Oreo pie from Rich’s Frozen Custard, the Ambassadors went a little nuts at the November meeting. First, we met new member Robin Theiss, who opened her one-of-a-kind bookstore, STLBooks & Gifts, right in downtown Kirkwood. StL Books is just what its name suggests—a bookstore specializing in St. Louis authors and books about St. Louis. At one point, genealogist to the stars Rick Miller gave a “bodacious and loquacious” report of his Ambassador connections since the previous meeting. Perhaps we were giddy from having just attended a ribbon cutting at Aazore’ Med Spa, where Adrienne Otten told us about the latest products and techniques for beautiful skin. There I experienced a warm paraffin hand treatment. Afterward, my newly softened and sweet-smelling hands accompanied the rest of myself around the corner to Olive Oils and More and picked up my first purchase. Owner Mary Burke also shared suggestions for making her delicious granola recipe.

The week before that, I experienced that curious blend of work, shopping, friendship, and connections that characterizes the life of an involved Chamber member. Hubs and I took ourselves to breakfast at Miss Sheri’s Cafeteria last Sunday where owner Jeff Amann offers breakfast to order on weekends. Great food, reasonable prices! The place is perfect for after church and family groups. On Monday, I learned the essentials of advertising from Dede Hoffman of Wordscapes at the Chamber’s Marketing Monday. She gave practical advice for preparing attention-grabbing ads in both print and online media. Deb Barry of the Kirkwood Public Library, which hosts the monthly Marketing Mondays, also told attendees how to access magazines online by signing up with Zinio for our reading devices. People who do better with show and tell are welcome to visit the library for a personal tutorial. I then made a quick stop at OK Hatchery for bulbs to add at a memorial tree planting over the weekend.

Afterward, I dropped by Sophia’s Jewelry Design to order a new watchband. The next day a coworker asked me to recommend a reliable, trustworthy dog-sitter. Within seconds she had a copy of Iris Colyer’s business card (Pet Care While You’re Away) in hand. A gloomy Tuesday was brightened considerably by a ribbon cutting at Billy G’s. A bunch of us decided to stay for lunch, where I met an interesting new Chamber member - Robin Lopate from My Music Room. I learned that Robin performs in two musical groups and teaches guitar.

With all this running around and name-dropping, you may be asking, “Does she ever work?” Absolutely! For without my esteemed employer—the Mary Culver Home for the Visually Impaired - I never would have known about the Chamber. Mary Culver board members Martha Durbin (James Durbin Jewelry Design), Lyn Lawshe (Lyn M. Lawshe, CPA), Deb Lavender (Des Peres Physical Therapy), Gina March (Gina Jewels and the Chamber), and Linda Tierney (Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help) all believe that the first step in community relations is Chamber membership. The Chamber is a great source for business services, too. We purchase insurance from Scott Stream and Joe Arndt. When we buy employee nametags and commemorative gifts, Arch Engraving is the source. At our Fall Tea, we had a stunning floral bouquet from Kirkwood Florist, color coordinated for the tablecloth and cake, that owner Jon Kuhlmann delivered personally. Michael Kearney referred a resident to the home and volunteers his time. Ellen O’Brien (Coldwell Banker Gundaker), Laura Ortmann (Ginger Bay), and David and Bev Collin (Busy Bees Embroidery) donate items for our open house boutiques and lobby resale shop on a regular basis.

OK, gotta go and update my calendar with upcoming Chamber functions, so that the next time we meet, I will have new experiences, new connections, and new names to drop!

P.S. That Oreo Custard Pie is haunting my dreams. Move over pumpkin! One of Rich’s Frozen Custard pies will be making an appearance at my table soon!

Sandy Gilfillan
Mary Culver Home for the Visually Impaired
221 W. Washington Avenue
Kirkwood, Missouri 63122