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Business

BizWorthy: Vendors Struggle With Cancellation Of Big Charlotte Holiday Expos

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The holidays are just around the corner. Normally that would mean large holiday expos like the annual Southern Christmas Show in Charlotte and Christmas Made in the South in Concord. But like other large events, they’ve been canceled because of the pandemic.

That’s left artisans and vendors who depend on the shows looking for new ways to reach customers. For more, we turn to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Marshall Terry: So, these expos are a big deal to some vendors, accounting for big chunks of their holiday sales. What are they doing to reach customers now that the shows have been canceled?

Tony Mecia: Marshall, they're trying a number of different things. I mean, these are pretty big deals for these vendors and artisans that sort of work this circuit throughout the year, especially closer to the holiday time when they sell all kinds of things from wooden carvings shaped like North Carolina to all kinds of knickknacks, jewelry. And these shows really can account for a lot of that money.

Now, all of a sudden, these shows aren't happening. So, they're forced to do things, like they're trying to go online, trying to build up an e-commerce business. But that's just hard to do when for so long your model has been to get in front of large numbers of people and sell them things for the holiday. It's proving to be very difficult.

Terry: And it's not just these large holiday expos getting canceled — so are holiday parties and other gatherings. A few months ago, I know we talked about how event planners were looking at ways of holding gatherings outside to be safe, but I imagine that's harder to do in the cold weather. So, what are they doing to stay afloat?

Mecia: Yeah, we talked to a number of event planners this week, and they thought that by now there would be more of these events. And they said, "Well, we can hold events — like you said — outside. We can do things inside. Keep people socially distanced, keep them safe." But really, what they're finding, Marshall, and maybe this is a surprise to people who live in Charlotte, but what they're finding is that people are still very reluctant to go and attend events with people they don't know.

So, we still are seeing these weddings. In the industry, they're calling them micro weddings — you know, smaller guest lists. You see some family reunions, things like that. But as far as corporate events and festivals, panel discussions, I mean, those are all still pretty much on hold. And so, you know, some of those are trying to go online with mixed results. Sometimes they're dividing them into smaller groups.

You see some of these charity fundraisers, for example. Rather than having hundreds of people in a ballroom, maybe you get 20 people in a house over here, 20 people in the house there, connect them with video. So, everybody is trying a lot of different creative things, but it's still nowhere near what it usually is, Marshall.

Terry: I want to turn now to some banking news. According to a Reuters report last week, Wells Fargo is exploring a sale of its asset management business. Quickly, if you will, for those of us not in the industry, what is that?

It's a part of Wells Fargo's wealth division in which they're managing clients' money by investing it in different places. You know, maybe it's real estate, maybe it's stocks, maybe it's some more complicated financial instruments. But they're basically managing money for clients.

Terry: So, what a sale of that business would be a big deal?

Mecia: Yeah, I think that would be a big deal. I would I think certainly that's a lot of money for Wells Fargo, and I think it kind of gets to maybe a little bit of the anxiety that a lot of people here in town that work at Wells Fargo are feeling a little bit as the bank is under a lot of pressure to cut costs.

Terry: The Ledger this week reported that Charlotte rap star DaBaby is causing a stir in Troutman, about 40 minutes north of Charlotte. That's where he recently moved into a multimillion-dollar home. So, what did you find out?

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DaBaby

Mecia: Yeah, it's sort of an interesting one, Marshall. We learned in the last week that DaBaby, who is known in Charlotte, international rap star, that he has moved into a house in Troutman, which is about 35 miles north of Charlotte. Not just a house. It's a pretty nice house. It's about 11,000 square feet, 2.3 million. And his presence there, we went to talk to a bunch of neighbors and town officials. It's raising some eyebrows because he's done a bunch of construction projects.

He's built a 10-foot high concrete wall, built some guard towers, installed some lighting, possibly for a football field. And so some of the neighbors have complained to the town saying that, hey, this might violate some town ordinances on construction. There've been noise complaints. Some police have been called to the house a number of times. And so it's just sort of interesting to see what happens when you have an international rap star moving into a small town like Troutman — certainly making some waves.

Terry: Did you say guard towers?

Mecia: Yes. They took out a permit in June to build five guard stations around the perimeter of his property. Some of the neighbors say that occasionally he does have armed guards in those towers. When we were out there last week, Marshall, though, the guard towers were unmanned.

Terry: All right, Tony, thanks.

Mecia: Thanks, Michael. That's Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

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