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Annual business expo draws about 60 vendors
Derrick Case, founder of Dress Up boutiques, speaks during a luncheon at the Thursday’s Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Expo.

People passing by could get more than just information about Hillary Truelove’s business.

If lucky, they could get some affectionate licks from her tiny dog, Rayna, a cavalier King Charles spaniel.

“She loves attention,” Truelove said.

And attention is just what Truelove and her business, Holly’s Bed and Biscuit Inn off Forrester Road in North Hall, were seeking as one some 60 vendors attending Thursday’s Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Expo, which drew almost 1,000 people.

“We have a pretty good client base already, but we always want to get the word out,” said Truelove, who serves as the owner’s assistant.

Business representatives were spread out around the Gainesville Civic Center ballroom, showing off their products and handing out information about what they make and do.

The five-hour event was free to the public, showcasing a wide range of businesses, including attorneys, boutiques, farms and car dealerships.

Alicia Sweeney of Mountain Fresh Creamery in Clermont said she finds that the expo is informational, perhaps eye-opening, to folks who stop by and try milk samples.

“People like to know their food is local,” she said, adding the company’s dairy products are “heated to a lot less temperature than (other products) you see in the grocery store, so it’s a lot better for you.”

Debbie Lee, director of institutional advancement at Lanier Christian Academy in Chestnut Mountain, said the expo gives the school just another way to tell people about the school and its programs.

“We love to visit with people,” she said.

The sold-out event also included, for the first time, a noon luncheon that featured a guest speaker, Derrick Case, founder of Dress Up boutiques.

He talked about the business’ rapid growth from an 800-square-foot lot in the basement of a building in Dahlonega that opened in August 2009.

Dress Up, which has a store on the Gainesville square, projects it will have some 30 stores employing about 400 workers by 2020.

“If you generally have a good idea or something you feel is going to take your business to another level, don’t let fear overcome that,” Case said.

The event wrapped up with an after-hours Taste of Gainesville, with several restaurants participating.