Break out the credit cards and Christmas lists, ladies, because this Sunday downtown Meadville stores are giving a day of shopping dedicated entirely to you.
Meadville Independent Business Alliance’s (MIBA) annual Ladies Day Out returns Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A total of 21 businesses will open its doors, ranging from clothing stores like The Woolen Mill and Harmony Formals, to those designed to satisfy sweet-tooth cravings like Save Room for Dessert and Confections of a Cake Lover.
Christine Yamrick, president of MIBA and owner of Chateau Christine, said Ladies Day Out regularly brings 350 to 400 women to downtown Meadville. Many businesses offer special sales or serve free food or drinks during the event.
There’s even a prize drawing for participants. Anyone who takes part in the event can get a punchcard passport and have it stamped at each of the participating businesses. Those who turn in a completed passport will have the chance to win the grand prize, which will consist of gifts given from all businesses taking part.
While the chance to get a good deal or win a prize is a draw, in some ways Ladies Day Out is more important for the stores than the shoppers.
“It is our holiday kick-off and it’s really to promote shopping downtown, shopping small, shopping local before they start shopping the big box stores for the holiday,” said Yamrick.
Corey Young, owner of French Creek Framing and Fine Art, echoed the sentiment. While this is the first year his business is taking part in the event, having just opened this past August, Young formerly worked for the Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce and said he knows how vital an event like Ladies Day Out is for the retail season.
“It’s extremely important and it’s a good reminder for Meadville to remember we have different, unique shopping experiences in Meadville, and to spend your dollars downtown for the holiday shopping season,” said Young.
For the event, French Creek Framing and Fine Art will be unveiling a new exclusive print by New York Times bestselling author and former Meadville resident Brenna Thummler entitled “The ABC’s of Meadville.”
The importance of exposure is something Hovis Interiors owner Bill Grasinger agrees with. Grasinger has long involved his business in Ladies Day Out even though people rarely spontaneously buy furniture.
Instead, he gets involved both to help his fellow local business owners and for the chance of attracting a potential new customer at a later date.
“I’ve always participated in it,” Grasinger said. “I think I sold one chair four years ago, but that’s OK because some of those people come back later and buy things.”
However, the chance to get some early Christmas shopping might be a vital one for certain businesses. Grasinger said he stocked up extra on some of his items for the simple reason that supply chain shortages have made it harder to get newer products in.
La-Z-Boy furniture, for example, can take almost a year to get in if it’s specifically ordered for, Grasinger said. While many of the supplies Grasinger gets his product from are domestic, even these businesses are starting to receive increased demand and a slowdown on getting new products in.
“If someone wants furniture in February, they better buy it in December,” he said.
Travis Crytzer, owner of Loeffler’s Flowers & Gifts, agreed the supply chain is a concern. However, he believes it might end up benefiting local businesses, as shoppers may put more trust in their ability to directly purchase something rather than wait for it to be shipped.
Loeffler’s has long been a participant in Ladies Day Out, and Cryzter said he’s looking forward to the event. The floral shop will be offering discounts of between 10 to 20 percent on most everything in the store, and may also be serving some drinks.
“It’s an event that I think really draws a good group of community members into the downtown shopping district and the atmosphere is always quite jovial in kicking off the holiday time,” he said.
The Chalk Shop is a first-time participant in Ladies Day Out this year, with the store offering 10 percent off gift cards and 20 percent off all pre-made signs.
Further, owner Georgette Bennett said the store has a full day of booked classes going on that day. While there aren’t spots available for people to join in the classes, shoppers may be able to take a look at how The Chalk Shop makes many of its items.
Bennett said she’s noticed this holiday season being not as busy as usual, and she’s hopeful Ladies Day Out will serve as a jump start to the season.
As one of the founders of Ladies Day Out — which started off with just Chateau Christine and the former Jeron Jewelers and Gemologists shop — Yamrick said she’s proud to see how the event has grown over the years, calling it a validation of why the Meadville community is so strong together.
“To see 21 businesses participate and everyone to be included, I think it’s just a fantastic way to celebrate the community,” she said.
She gave especial mention of The Green Shoppe, which recently had to move out of its 242 Chestnut St. location. The business has temporarily located to the lobby area of the Professional Union Trust Building at 231 Chestnut St. and is organizing a holiday market for the season, which will be open during the Ladies Day Out event.
For Yamrick’s own business, Chateau Christine will be offering “Chateau Cash” on purchases during Ladies Day Out which provides money that can go to buying other items. There will also be doorbuster sales and deeply discounted items during the day.
Yamrick encourages all available women to take advantage of the day if they haven’t done so before.
“It is so much fun,” she said. “You see your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers. There’s a lot of laughter; there’s a lot of friendship that day.”
Businesses taking part in Ladies Day Out include Boho Swag, The Vogue, City Limits, Green Shoppe, Hovis Interiors, The Salty Spa, The Chalk Shop, Fox’s Sew & Vac, The Woolen Mill, Chateau Christine, Loeffler’s Flowers, Lucky Lucy’s Tattoo, Ooh La La Consignment, Save Room for Dessert, Indigo Boutique & Botanica, Confections of a Cake Lover, Harmony Formals, French Creek Framing & Fine Art, Tattered Corners and Julian’s Bar & Grill.
Sean P. Ray can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at [email protected]