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Young entrepreneur launches local speed-dating service

August 24, 2009|By NATALIE BRANDON / Special to The Herald-Mail

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WHAT: Speed dating; organized by Sammy's Singles

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28 for ages 21 through 39; 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, for ages 40 and older.

WHERE: Both events will be held at the Venice Best Western in Hagerstown

COST: Admission costs $25 per person; $35 at the door. Includes soft drinks, snacks and door prizes. There will be a cash bar.

CONTACT: Call 240-291-7229 or e-mail sammyssingles@yahoo.com. Sammy's Singles' Web site, www.sammysingles.com, offers speed-dating tips and conversation topics.

It's hard to meet someone special.

In today's fast-paced, got-to-have-it-now society, singles have long ago thrown out the charming virtues of chivalry and courtly love, and have replaced them with online dating services where a computer program selects potential mates.

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Is that how we all wish to find love - on eHarmony?!

Along with his family, Hagerstown resident Sam Buckley, 23, who is single, is proud to introduce his new business, Sammy's Singles, a new speed-dating service in the Tri-State area.

You may recall seeing speed-dating events in popular movies, such as "Hitch" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and the popular television series and movie, "Sex and the City."

As a business major at Howard County Community College, Buckley was inspired through his marketing classes to brainstorm with Katy Sweeney, his mother and co-owner of Sammy's Singles, about starting his own business.

"We did a lot of marketing research and it appears that speed-dating is popular in larger cities, but virtually untouched in smaller towns," Sweeney says, "We thought this was something that the local area needs and wants."

Sammy's Singles is recession-proof, Sweeney says. There will always be people interested in meeting others and dating, she says, no matter how bad the economy gets.

"I have met people and started relationships through Internet dating sites in the past," she says, "I found that people are often very dishonest about themselves while in that sort of environment. It's easier to read people's honesty while sitting face-to-face."

Sammy's Singles will be holding its first speed-dating event on Friday, Aug. 28, for ages 21 through 39 and Saturday, Aug. 29, for ages 40 and older. Both events will be held at the Venice Best Western in Hagerstown and are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Guests are asked to fill out what is called a "speeding ticket," where they list their marital status and if they are looking for romance or just friendship. The two are not exclusive, Sweeney says, because "who knows if a friendship could turn into something more?"

The speed-daters are then handed a list of ice-breaker questions they may use to prepare themselves. As the event begins, daters are seated at long tables, men on one side of the table and women on the other. They then have approximately four minutes to talk to the person seated across from them. After four minutes, the men move up a seat while the women remain seated, and a new date begins.

At the end of the event, the speed-daters turn in cards on which they've checked off other speed-daters who they'd like to meet again. When one dater's card is compatible with another's, that is a match. A few days after the event, Sammy's Singles delivers the matches to the appropriate daters, listing their e-mail addresses and phone numbers. It is then up to the daters to set up meetings between one another.

Sweeney says a speed-dater can expect a 50 percent chance of meeting a match at a speed-dating event.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for singles to meet other singles in person while in a safe environment," Buckley says.

Sammy's Singles offers safe-dating tips to encourage speed-daters remain safe after the event has ended. They also provide protection for safer sex practices, along with information about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

"We want to have fun, don't get me wrong," Sweeney says, "but this is not about people just hooking up."

The mother-son duo is following a five-year plan to build their business in the Hagerstown area. They also plan to branch out to Chambersburg, Pa., Frederick, Md., and Winchester, Va., and to set up speed-dating events for the single Christian, gay and lesbian, Latino and 55-plus communities.

Admission to the Aug. 25 and 26 events will cost $25 each day and includes free soft drinks, snacks and door prizes. There will be a cash bar. Seating is limited and advance registration is required. A portion of the proceeds will go to AIDS Awareness.

Their Web site, www.sammysingles.com (designed by Buckley's 15-year-old sister), offers speed-dating tips and conversation topics. Of particular interest is a list of body-language signals for flirting or looking for interest in potential matches.

To contact Sammy's Singles, call 240-291-7229 or e-mail sammyssingles@yahoo.com.

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