By Sage Um
To get the attention and dollars of local women who usually drive to malls in Charlottesville or Roanoke, downtown Lexington businesses hosted an after-hours shopping spree event for the ladies in Rockbridge County on Tuesday.
“Struttin’ the Strip: A LexVegas Affair,” sponsored by downtown Lexington merchants Sept. 27, involved 20 stores in Lexington and a variety of entertainment on street corners from 6 to 9 p.m. on a cool, clear night.
“This is an event to show what we have to offer to Rockbridge County,” said Tracey M. Lackey, owner of Intimate U, a lingerie store in town. “The people might not shop the entire time, but it will definitely put in their minds what we have here downtown.”
Lackey introduced the idea to the merchants after she attended a similar event near Randolph-Macon College in Ashland last year. After discussions with other storeowners, the businesses hosted an event called “Red Lipstick and High Heels” in June.
“A lot of people do their shopping out of town, but what they don’t realize is what we have right here,” said Lackey. “Our efforts are to remind people to shop local because it does the community good.”
After the successful event in June, Lackey sought to do it again, this time when students of Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute were in town.
“This event is not a continuation of ‘Red Lipstick’ but a separate one with a Las Vegas feel with live entertainment,” said Lisa Markham, promotions manager for the Chamber of Commerce. She said it was meant to drive more business downtown and also give the women in Rockbridge County an opportunity for a “girls’ night out.”
More than 100 customers came to Intimate U during the extra hours, making the event as successful as the first effort in June, Lackey said.
Struttin’ the Strip was a result of a cooperative effort between the Lexington Chamber of Commerce, which helped with the outreach marketing, and the merchants putting together the entertainment and the special events for each store.
There was Zumba in front of Wells Fargo, ballet on the street near the State Theater, and modern dance in Hopkins Green. Each store offered drinks and hors d’oeurves. Celtic Tides, a gift shop, had authentic Scottish chips and soda and live Scottish songs played on a guitar, while Intimate U displayed a new line of bareMinerals eye shadow. Lackey also tweeted throughout the event.
“This is great,” said Taylor Ford, a Rockbridge County woman. “I usually shop online or go to bigger stores out of town, but it’s nice to be able to shop after hours and just walk around and enjoy what each store has to offer.”
Lackey said she had a profitable evening.
“It would be nice to have these events more often,” she said. “Even if we have an after-hours event, it would definitely attract more business to the stores downtown.”