Adaptable Anza-Aguanga business owners turn bad winds into success at expo

Anza Pet Pantry creator Mary Wilson discusses the animal welfare issues facing Anza to Larry Hughes at the Hwy. 371 Business Expo & Job Fair Saturday, April 29. Diane Sieker photo

Sandi Hughes

Special to Valley News

Typical Anza winds tossed jars of seeds and vendor tables onto the concrete patio like wads of paper, but the participants were not to be deterred. The “Hwy. 371 Business Expo & Job Fair” was moved indoors at Marketplace Cooperative, Inc. As organizers rushed to change their signage so visitors could locate the displaced Expo, the intimate venue sparked lively conversation between the businesses. Before long, the chatter was enhanced as visitors from as far away as Temecula and Big Bear asked enthusiastic questions of the Expo’s local experts.

The Saturday, April 29, event began in the parking lot at Anza Valley Business Center at 56480 Hwy. 371, in Anza before moving into Suite 11.

Visitors could meet local businesses in the communities along Highway 371 from Highway 79 South to Highway 74. Many of the businesses in attendance offered products or services that could benefit residents and some businesses also offered work opportunities. The Expo was a prelude to National Small Business Week April 30-May 6.

“Most of our local businesses aren’t visible along Hwy. 371 and we were hoping the Expo would draw them out into the public eye for better exposure,” says Sandi Hughes, co-owner of Marketplace Cooperative, Inc. “I didn’t know we had a local cake decorator or a service dog trainer and dog rehab college.”

The Expo is hosted by two newly formed business groups, the Hwy. 371 Business Association (for-profit) and the 371 Nonprofit Network, each geared toward uniting local business owners in the communities along Hwy 371 for the purposes of inter-business referrals, networking and troubleshooting common business challenges.  For business owners wishing to participate, information and registration forms are online at

Marketplace Cooperative, Inc. (MCI) is a worker-owned cooperative focused on building the local economy through administrative, marketing and other business services. It is the founding company for the Hwy 371 Business Association (for-profit) and the 371 Nonprofit Network that will be turned over to its community participants once they are firmly established.

For details contact Marketplace Cooperative, Inc., call (915) 744-0170 or send an email to

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