On Fridays, readers are sometimes invited to follow The Planet's eccentric orbit around the county without leaving their own homes via The Planet's eccentric feature, The Trenton Runaround. This Saturday, Dec. 8, the Greater Dade Business Owners Association's annual Small Business Expo offers guests a similar opportunity: to tour the businesses and institutions of Dade County--and to partake of the peculiar pleasure of participating in the proximal population--all within the confines of Dade County High School. Thus The Planet devotes this Friday to a taste of what's in store tomorrow with this
The Small Business Expo Preview!
"It puts the focus on local businesses like nothing else," said GDBOA's Nathan Wooten, who started the Expo in 2016. "We charge almost nothing for them to be there, and this year there are 97 of them--almost 100."
Wooten's original idea with the Expo was to create a concentrated opportunity for local Christmas shopping, giving Dade's businesses a crack at a high-traffic guest flow. He invited small, home-based businesses along the Pampered Chef or Avon lines to participate along with anchor Trenton businesses such as Gross Furniture and JB's Variety Store, which have physical premises.
What he had to offer them was an open-air market moved
indoors for the winter--and away from the 100-percent prediction of rain that this year squelched the Christmas parade that usually follows the Expo--complete with food court and live music. The Davis Chorus sings at 2 p.m. Guests are enticed in with door prizes, inflatables and drawings that include a $1000 cash giveaway, and exhibitors have stalls, spaces or tables they use to hawk their wares or distribute information about their services.
About 50 signed up for year one, the event grew on year two, and this year the event has doubled. Businesses have begun coming from Chattanooga and beyond, and other local, non-merchant institutions have now jumped aboard. "Both our medical providers are coming this year," said Wooten, referring to Primary Health Care and CHI Memorial Family Practice Trenton. "So are both our chiropractors." Alternative medicine is also represented. In fact, there are so many health and wellness providers, they will have a whole aisle to themselves.
But it doesn't end there. Other local institutions have reserved booths, said Wooten, including Bank of Dade and Moore Funeral Home. "Gill Manufacturing is going to be doing like a mini job fair," he said.
Thatcher's Barbecue will be the star of the food court again this year. Wooten had originally signed up Jefferson's, the new restaurant gearing up in the old Randy's location, but Jefferson's had to bail--it hadn't yet recruited and trained enough staff to participate. Wooten is scrambling for a last-minute replacement, so perhaps another local restaurant will be represented on Saturday.
Other interesting participants this year include Hunter's Salvage Grocery, the alt-grocery store in the Gross Shopping Center. Salvage grocery stores buy up overstock and cosmetically damaged goods from distributors, apparently from all over because Hunter's is Trenton's one source for all sorts of interesting little products with names in Spanish. If you've never stopped by Hunter's north-of-the square location, the Expo might be an excellent chance to see what it has on offer.
IAB Inflatables, the Trenton-based inflatables vendor, will be there despite the rain, said Wooten--he's looking into putting up a kids' fun center up indoors in the high school auditorium.
There will be jewelry, makeup and clothing vendors at the Expo. There will also be fine art. Subterranean Designs--which equals, full disclosure, The Planet's fabulous and incomparable Art Department, Jerry Wallace--will offer atavistic cave art rocks for unique Christmas presents. Other interesting gift opportunities will be provided by local florists, farmers and craftspeople. Trenton's stores big and little will also be there, including the Factory Outlet, JB's Variety, Bottom Dollar Tools and Uncle Lar's.
Sleepyhead Coffee is coming from Chattanooga. Home-based businesses will be well-represented. "I've never even heard of some of them," said Wooten.
One that fits in the latter category in The Planet's case is Crave Ink Therapy, which appears to be tattoo products. What kind of product do tattoos require? Well! The only way to find out is to:
Show up Saturday at the Small Business Expo!
Location: Dade County High School, Highway 136 East
Time: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Photos, from top to bottom: Paparazzi Jewelry, Hunter's Grocery, Subterranean Designs, IAB Inflatables, Ada's Heritage Farms, Crave Ink Therapy, Sleepyhead Coffee.