Michelle Glick, co-owner of Whitney’s Chevrolet in Montesano, hosted what may have been the Harbor’s first women’s business networking event this week.
Heels and Wheels drew 65 women to the dealership’s showroom Thursday evening to mingle, sip wine and enjoy nibbles from sponsors Pick-Rite Thriftway and Party Food to Go — both women-owned businesses.
“There’s Chamber, there’s Rotary, there’s Elks and Eagles and VFW … but I didn’t see anything here that’s just for women,” said Glick. “And I thought: Well, I wonder if other ladies would like that.
“And,” she added, looking proudly around the room full of women chatting and trading business cards, “I’m gonna say yes.”
The event’s main sponsor was Kathi Hoder, the third-generation female owner of the Hoquiam Licensing Bureau. Several women-owned businesses contributed small items for swag bags and bigger items as door prizes to be raffled off. The surprise grand prize was a $500 Whitney’s gift certificate donated by Glick.
“It’s been really cool just meeting all these gals and finding out about all their businesses,” she said. “I mean, you think you know what’s going on, and then you’re like: I’m living under a rock!”
Several attendees echoed that sentiment.
“It blows my mind,” said Montesano herbalist and writer Kitty Mady. “I’ve lived in this town for 34 years. I had a store here, everybody knows me, I’ve written for every newspaper — and yet I don’t know anybody here!”
Several woman-to-woman connections were made during the course of the evening. One attendee met a mechanic who was qualified to work on her classic car. Another met and hired a real estate agent to help her find a house. Yet another scheduled a much-needed massage with a local professional.
Glick credits “event guru” Darnell Sue, a native Harborite who now lives and runs a business in Seattle. “I would not have known what to do,” said Glick. “I would have been lost without her!”
Their connection goes way back: Sue’s grandfather worked at the Glick family’s dealership for 50 years.
“I was talking to Darnell about PR kind of stuff,” said Glick. “I was wanting to rebrand the dealership and let people know that Luke and I were here, without saying ‘under new management.’” (She and Luke Brogan recently took over the business from her now semi-retired father, longtime local businessman Stormy Glick.)
“I did large-scale women’s networking events in Seattle for seven, eight years called Girl Power Hour, and this is basically modeled after that,” said Sue. “When this opportunity arose to work with Michelle, it just made sense.”
An additional element of the evening was raising money for the Grays Harbor Teen Homeless Backpack program. For every woman who wore red shoes that evening (there were 20), Glick donated $10 to that Elma-based nonprofit.
The plan is for the networking event to be repeated twice a year at Whitney’s, in the spring and fall.
“We’re here to promote women and women-owned businesses. It’s women supporting women, and there’s something magical about that,” said Sue. “No one else is doing it (here). I think there’s something to it.”