FARMINGTON — Franklin County Chamber of Commerce held a grand opening Thursday in its new office in the front of the Walmart store on Wilton Road.
"It's a win-win situation," Walmart Manager Greg Patterson said. He approached the corporation's home office last year with the idea of renting the small office space, accessible only from outside the store, to the chamber.
"In every town, the chamber is the backbone of the town," he said. "It's a vital piece of the community."
The store has the traffic flow, Patterson said. The kiosks, filled with the brochures of chamber members, can't be kept filled, he said. Some downtown businesses have reported customers saying they didn't know they were there until they picked up the brochure at the kiosk in Walmart, he said.
The chamber is receiving a good deal from Walmart, President Scott Landry said. It received free rent from Oct. 1, when it moved into the office, through January. Now, it pays rent that includes custodial care, he said.
Saving money was one reason for the move.
The chamber was previously at the C.N. Brown building at 248 Wilton Road and is in the second year of its three-year lease there.
Patterson said Walmart officials are excited about the new arrangement, as is the chamber.
"We're working on rebuilding membership and other events like the Business Breakfast series and the Home and Leisure Show," Landry said. "Everything is going well."
The membership normally rises this time of year as the show and other events develop, he said.
Chamber interim Director Marc Relford, along with a new intern for the chamber, Robert Pond, are visiting businesses across Franklin County, he said. They are meeting members and potential new members to help bring Franklin County together, he said.
As for other chambers around the county, "we work together. We're not competing but trying to bring the whole county together," Relford said.
Pond, who grew up in Wilton, is interning as part of his final semester to earn his bachelor's degree in business administration. He has more than 30 years of sales experience and a variety of skills needed to help on the Home and Leisure Show and production of the chamber's annual guide, Landry said.