On Friday, the Oakley Chamber of Commerce announced on social media is has closed its doors for good.
The move comes after years of struggling with trying to increase membership and fundraising while this year their main fundraiser event, Wine & Whiskey Soirée, was cancelled due to COVID-19.
In a message to the community:
The Oakley Chamber of Commerce is saddened to announce in light of recent events we will be ceasing operations May 1, 2020. As many of you know the Chamber has brought many fun events to the local community over the years such as the Oakley Almond Festival, Oakley Wine & Whiskey Soirée along with trying to be a voice for the Business community. In recent years the involvement of local businesses has changed in the area which has resulted in a loss of memberships and fundraising opportunities for the Chamber. While we have attempted to re-tool and recruit more members, our attempts have not been successful and have led to the situation we currently face which is low revenue, increased operating cost and loss of our operating space.
We would like to thank each and every one that has been a part of the Oakley Chamber of Commerce history and wish each of you success.
If you know a business looking for furniture, event supplies, or other items, please feel free to reach out as we will begin selling off assets.
2020 Oakley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Michael Miller, Branin Cook, Kyle Scheer, Kristin Mattingly, David Greenblatt, Mark Whitlock
According to Dr. Kristin Mattingly, they do not have any money and that over the past several years, the Wine & Whiskey Soirée was able to help fund the chamber for the year, however, now they cannot have any events in the immediate future so it makes it difficult to raise funds through fundraising efforts to keep the doors open.
Mattingly explained that she has been involved for 10-years in the Chamber and they have had give or take 110 members and currently they were around 60 at the time of the announcement to cease operations.
The challenge was the City of Oakley has over 400 home based businesses, but not as many in commercial spaces.
“To put effort into something that nobody else is seeing the value in or participating in its really tough. Right now, most people are focusing on their own businesses to keep it alive,” said Mattingly. “Its hard right now, we have only six board members but little participation from the membership.”
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor Diane Burgis, a resident of Oakley for 16-years, explained the importance of being a part of a chamber and participating during these times because that networking and camaraderie is helping people get through tough times like right now.
“I love our little town of Oakley and I am hoping as we get through this COVID-19 crisis we will be able to reinvent a chamber that will thrive,” said Burgis.
Oakley Vice Mayor Sue Higgins said she was sad the Chamber was closed as she just paid for her membership for the year and was really looking forward to the Wine & Whiskey Soirée, event.
“It’s a great loss for our community and hopefully as the economy recovers so will they and come back in one form or another,” said Higgins.
Even with the chamber closure, Mattingly encourages the community to shop local and support local business while keeping it positive.
“I think everybody really needs to look at what is going on with businesses and help as local as possible within our county and sharing within our community good experiences and businesses they may not have heard about. The more positive comments about business the better and would encourage more support around the community for our businesses both by the consumer and local governments,” said Mattingly.