Chamber expo helps new, old businesses

ajames@newsobserver.comMay 28, 2013 

— Local businesses lined the walls of The Clayton Center last week for the Chamber of Commerce’s annual business expo.

In all, 38 businesses, two less than last year, took part in the networking event.

“It’s for businesses that want to show that they’re doing something new and for new businesses to let other people know they’re here,” said Mary Beth Robert, director of special projects for the Chamber of Commerce.

Allie Schleuder and Michelle Barbour opened their hair salon, A&M Hair Studio, in March. They came to the expo to spread the word about their business.

Seated at their booth, both women donned pink strands in their hair to advertise one of their specialties, hair coloring.

“I won’t know until after how the event has helped my business,” Schleuder said, but her hope is that it helped get the name out there.

The women passed out fliers for a free hair service, offered the second Monday of the month for new customers.

“You can come in and get a free color, cut, shampoo or blow-out; it depends on what our deal that day is,” Schleuder said. Customers can register online at saloninclayton.com.

The longtime friends previously worked together at Elizabeth and Co. Hair Studio.

Advertising new products

For mainstay businesses, the expo was a chance to connect with new customers and to advertise new products.

Joyce Blackley of Blackley’s Printing said she met a new customer she thinks will become a regular.

Blackley said the printing company just purchased a machine that can make copies of house plans. “People can email the house plans, and it will make copies of them,” said Blackley.

At the expo, Blackley told several attendees about the machine, and they said they’d been looking for such a service.

“I definitely made some new customers here,” Blackley said, adding that the turnout for this year’s expo was greater than last years.

Several organizations had booths at the event to try to attract new members.

Clayton Women in Networking, or WIN for short, had the most eye-catching booth display at the event.

WIN member Juanita Curtis dressed up in a bright-yellow duck costume, complete with long, yellow eyelashes, to accompany the booth’s “lucky duck” game.

The game played on the name “WIN” and gave attendees the chance to pick a duck out of a pool of water. If they were lucky, they won a prize.

WIN launched in April of last year to give women chamber members a unique networking outlet and to help women support each other’s businesses.

The group is also focused on outreach. The women hold fundraisers to underwrite scholarships for women, and they support Harbor Inc., the Johnston County nonprofit that provides aid to victims of rape and domestic violence.

“I think the people who have come by today have been able to see the relationship we all have with one another and how we support each other and have fun,” Curtis aid..

The spring expo is a low-key version of a larger expo that takes place at the Harvest Festival in September. That event routinely draws more than 200 businesses.

James: 919-553-7234

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