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Despite economy, expo for Prospect area businesses thrives

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By Emory Williamson

Holding a recently groomed, red-bowed Pomeranian in her arms at last week’s Prospect Community Expo, Marguerite Norton is faring well even during uncertain economic times. “Business has been tremendous,” Norton said, who owns Star Quality Pets, a grooming and boarding center in Prospect. “We have  reasonable prices and the dogs are very well taken care of.” Norton said that using alternative forms of advertising – roadside mascots, church bulletins and directories – as well as maintaining prices, helps her stay connected with her customers and the community without the high expenses.  She said the first thing she did with her new company last year was register for the Expo, which proved to be successful as the company added 750-plus clients during their first year. Across from Norton and her collection of canines is the Prospect Latin School, another one of the 57 featured businesses at the Expo, organized by the Prospect Area Chamber of Commerce. Diane Deitel, head of the independent academic preschool, said her first year at the Expo has been beneficial for the school. “We’ve been doing a lot of networking and a lot of people have been coming by [our booth],” she said, as she requests another onlooker to place their hand in a sticky, purple substance concocted by the children at the school. “It’s a good way to let people know about our school and who we are.” This is exactly what Expo Chair Rob Prince wants. The fifth-annual event, which took place in the gym at Harrods Creek Baptist Church, not only featured local businesses, but caterers and free entertainment as well. “This is building a sense of community and having an event that families can come to and find out about these businesses,” Prince said. “They can come here and get to know these people before they invite them into their home.” Yet Prince acknowledges the times and says that of the 170 chamber member businesses in the area, several are facing difficult financial decisions. “Many of the organizations have had to scale down,” he said. “But the best marketing is face-to-face direct referral and there’s not a better environment than to be here and talking to people.” However, others at the event, ranging from all facets of the Prospect business community, raised concerns regarding the economy. Lucy Linet, who owns Linet’s Fashions & Accessories, said a tumultuous economy has caused her to struggle to maintain her upstart business.  She left her full-time job in order to open up the business, but has since returned to a part-time job in sales as well as operating her current business due to a troubling economic market. “I would have never [opened up my business] if I knew this was going to happen,” she said of the market’s downfall. “It’s the devil.”   E-mail us about this story at: emory@oldhamera.com