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Alle Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce moving HomExpo to Belmont Complex in East Franklin

Emily Balser
| Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, 7:57 p.m.
In this photo taken last February, Phil Tompkins, owner of Rent-The-Chicken.com, holds a Polish chicken as the general public peruses the offerings at the Alle Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce's HomExpo at the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer. The Chamber is moving the event to the Belmont Arena next year and moving the date to May.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
In this photo taken last February, Phil Tompkins, owner of Rent-The-Chicken.com, holds a Polish chicken as the general public peruses the offerings at the Alle Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce's HomExpo at the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer. The Chamber is moving the event to the Belmont Arena next year and moving the date to May.

The Alle Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce is moving its HomExpo to a new location, after holding the event for most of the last 15 years at Pittsburgh Mills mall.

The HomExpo will be moved to the Belmont Complex in East Franklin next year, which the chamber said will allow for a better layout for the vendors and more opportunities for new businesses to showcase their products.

“I think it was just time for change,” said Lynda Pozzuto, the chamber's executive director.

The move from the Frazer mall comes as it continues to struggle.

The mall's value has been plummeting — from $190 million a decade ago to an appraisal of $11 million last year — and nearly half of its storefronts are empty. Key tenants have been lost over the years, although the mall recently added several new shops, including Luna Vision and Med Spa, Tang Soo Do Karate College, Bubble Tea in the food court and a Sino Star automotive equipment store.

Messages left for Pittsburgh Mills officials were not immediately returned.

Moving from February to May

The chamber also is changing the date of the expo, from February to May, in an effort to draw in more outdoor vendors.

Organizers have added an outdoor living section to the show that they hope will draw in businesses that specialize in travel trailers and outdoor recreational vehicles.

“Armstrong County is so huge with the hunting and the fishing that we'd love to bring that to our show,” Pozzuto said.

Pozzuto said the chamber is in a 3-year contract with the Belmont Complex, but declined to provide the rental cost. She said they hope to continue to have the expo there for as long as it's been at the Pittsburgh Mills.

The show usually draws about 100 vendors and around 30,000 people. It is free to attend. Jenn Tompkins, co-founder of Rent-the-Chicken in Freeport, said the change puts the expo closer to their business, but farther away from their target market of Pittsburgh.

The business has participated in the expo in conjunction with the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau.

She said the change in the date also affects their ideal delivery times, which are in March and April.

“February is a much better event time,” she said.

Tompkins said the expo will still draw a crowd no matter where it's held. She said the business plans to participate again with the tourist bureau.

“I'm sure that they will still have a great response,” she said. “It just might be a different group of people.”

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680, emilybalser@tribweb.com or on Twitter @emilybalser.

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