Looking for a special Christmas gift but don’t want to get caught up in the holiday crush, yet still want the advantage of talking to a human face-to-face instead of doing the online thing?
    Then the Home-Based Business Holiday Shopping Expo is tailor-made for you.
    The expo, as the name implies, features representatives showing off products sold through home-based businesses. It will be held Saturday, Nov. 15, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Carolina Room of the Hampton Inn across from Cross Creek Mall.
    The event is in its first year and is the brainchild of Amber Wellman and Bria Cunnien, who dreamed up the idea after attending a similar expo.
    {mosimage}“We decided, ‘Hey, we could make this really big ... We can really do this and make it a lot better and get more vendors,’” said Wellman.
    As of press time, 13 vendors had reserved booths at the expo, with more on the way, said Wellman. And even though she says women are generally the chief demographic for such expos, everyone is invited.
“If a man needs to get his wife a Christmas present, we’re all right here,” said Wellman. “We’re all women and we can help out.”
    Among the vendors who will be offering plenty of gift options is Amy Stewart, a consultant for Longaberger, an Ohio-based company that’s been in business for 35 years which sells handcrafted baskets and other home and lifestyle products, including pottery, wrought iron, fabric accessories and specialty foods. The company has 45,000 independent home consultants located in all 50 states who sell Longaberger products directly to customers.
    “We (consultants) can’t sell on the Internet,” said Stewart, who’s been a Longaberger consultant for about two months. “The company wants to keep us very home-show specific and committed to our clients.
    “The great thing about our baskets is if you go to a big-name retailer and buy a basket and it breaks, you just pitch it out,” said Stewart. “Longaberger is going to fix it for you and you don’t have to worry about it.”
    Stewart says Longaberger has a variety of unique products in a various sizes, shapes and colors.
    Another vendor who will be offering a unique gift experience at the expo is Bridget Barreira, who represents Ribbon, The Gift of Choice. This endeavor offers a gift card that comes in the form of an album showcasing gifts the recipient can choose for himself. Gifts vary widely in price and type, with items representing such brand names as Fossil, Sony, Dooney & Bourke, Ghirardelli, J.A. Henckels and others.
“You get a wide variety and you get to choose your own gift,” said Barreira. “You really get to receive the gift three times — when you receive the gift certificate, when you go online to order the gift, and when you actually receive the gift through the mail.”
    A vendor proffering a more service-based gift is Nubian Farley, owner of Fondue 4 U — a catering service that offers scrumptious fondues of every variety to groups as small as two people on up to “as many as my client can safely seat” said Farley.
    Farley said her mother first got the idea for the business back in the 1970s when the military family was stationed overseas. Farley said a friend from Belgium invited her mom over and it was the first time she’d ever seen a fondue.
    “She fell in love with it and decided she wanted to bring it back to the states with her as a business,” said Farley. “My folks did just that and I helped over the years. When they became ill I took it over and put my own twist on it.”
    Farley says there are “no limits” as to what kind of fondue she can set up.
    “I do vegetarian fondue ... all poultry ... it’s a very client-specific dinner,” said Farley. “I can conjure up pretty much anything that you would like.
    “Cheese fondue is included with the dinners and veggies for dipping and chocolate fondue for dessert,” said Farley. “I have done expos; I do demos -  I do it as a sit-down but also as a buffet. I have set up a demo for realtors to try and sell homes, office parties, etc. My biggest hurdle is trying to get folks to realize that I am not a restaurant, that I am a traveling fondue service and I come on location to wherever you’d like me to come.”
    And you don’t have to travel far to check out these vendors and others at the Home-Based Business Holiday Shopping Expo. Admission is free and there will be door prizes and a massage therapist on site doling out free massages.

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