As February came to a close, so did the Wading River-Shoreham Chamber of Commerce. The chamber announced early last month that it is joining the neighboring North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, effective immediately.
Millie Thomas, one of few remaining active members, said the chamber was unable to bounce back after the market downturn that started in 2008, leading to the inevitable merger.
“We used to be very vibrant and so were all the other chambers in the area,” Ms. Thomas said. “And then what happened is a lot of merchants kind of cut out being members because they cut out what they felt they absolutely didn’t need to do for their budgets.”
Now, Shoreham and Wading River will become the seventh and eighth hamlets represented by the North Brookhaven chamber, joining Terryville, Port Jefferson Station, Mount Sinai, Miller Place, Sound Beach and Rocky Point.
North Brookhaven chamber president Jennifer Dzvonar said the two groups are still discussing how the merger will affect business owners who have already purchased 2016 memberships in the Wading River-Shoreham chamber. Businesses without active 2016 memberships are encouraged to join the North Brookhaven chamber, which costs $150 per year, Ms. Dzvonar said.
The Wading River-Shoreham Chamber of Commerce’s website is set to come down at the end of March.
Ms. Dzvonar and Ms. Thomas agreed that the merge will benefit members of both chambers.
“The Shoreham-Wading River chamber, they’re smaller and they’re looking to expand into more areas,” Ms. Dzvonar said. “It’s better for everybody. It’s more beneficial to local businesses to be in a chamber that has more members and is maybe a little more diversified and a little larger geographically.”
One of the biggest benefits Ms. Thomas sees is the ability to continue their community programs, such as donating food around Thanksgiving and Christmas and a scholarship fund for graduating seniors in the Shoreham-Wading River and Riverhead school districts, as well as Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York.
Most notably, the Wading River-Shoreham chamber has been responsible for Duck Pond Day and the Breast Cancer Walk/Run 5K event each May.
“It’s been only a few people working to do the whole job,” Ms. Thomas said. “We have to deal with getting all the permits for Duck Pond Day, and raising money and putting the ads out, trying to get the vendors and the parade people together … it’s a lot of work for three or four people to do.”
Ms. Thomas said that members of the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce “have been very welcoming” and have offered their support to help ensure that these traditions continue.
Although the smaller chamber is officially merging with its North Brookhaven counterpart, businesses operating the Riverhead Town portion of Wading River can also join the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a good time for them now to join either North Brookhaven or the Riverhead one as well, depending on where their business is,” Ms. Thomas said. “I suggest joining both.”