Chamber of Commerce Suddenly Closes Shop

By Danya Bacchus
|  Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011  |  Updated 6:44 AM PDT
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America's Finest Beer Fest, sponsored by a local chamber of commerce, canceled the event just 24 hours before it was to start.

The festival was scheduled for July 22 through 24th at Qualcomm stadium.

The Rancho San Diego Jamul Chamber of Commerce canceled the festival and then closed its doors this week.

"What they've done with us, they've essentially bought something in our store and walked out without paying,” said Mike Shess, Executive Editor of West Coaster a publication covering San Diego's Craft Beer Community.

He thought America's Finest Beer Festival would be a great way to do business

“We helped promote it on our back cover,” he said.

In exchange for discounted advertisement, West Coaster would get a booth at the festival.

The event was canceled Thursday, July 21 at 4 p.m. – a day before the event was scheduled to begin.

Since then, Shess says he hasn't heard anything from Valerie Harrison, or her husband Jeff - the leaders of the Rancho San Diego-Jamul Chamber of Commerce.

Shess says they also skipped out of more than $700 owed for the ad.

Vendors who paid for a booth at the now canceled event, are also out hundreds of dollars he said.

When NBC 7 San Diego stopped by the Chamber's Office Tuesday, shelves were empty and the place was cleaned out.

The landlord says he gave Valerie Harrison an eviction notice last week.

Harrison was nearly $20,000 behind in rent according to the landlord.

With no explanation or communication about what happened, Shess says he and others feel they were scammed.

"They haven't told us anything so we're assuming the worst,” Shess said.

An email sent to RSDJ Chamber members said the economy was the reason for the closing but doesn't mention the beer festival.

NBC 7 San Diego tried to reach Valerie and Jeffrey Harrison for comment, no one was home and phone calls were not returned.
 

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