By Katy Stewart
Stores and restaurants in downtown Lexington stayed open late Tuesday and offered promotions in a retail event called Spruce Up for Spring.
Lisa Markham, the Chamber of Commerce’s promotions manager for downtown, said the event was intended to show off the downtown and encourage shoppers to reacquaint themselves with the area.
“We hope to increase traffic and see people on the streets and in stores,” she said.
Markham said shopkeepers didn’t keep track of the number of visitors during the event.
“It seemed busy, the merchants seemed happy, and we saw good things on Facebook,” she said.
About 25 shops participated, the most ever. Each showcased a new product or service, and some served food and drinks.
“It’s an opportunity to see what’s new and not so new — the old favorites,” Markham said.
Intimate U owner Tracey Lackey featured a line of organic beauty products at Tuesday’s event. She offered customers a skin-clearing drink with “beauty benefits — I got the recipe from Pinterest,” she said, referring to a popular social-media site.
“Everyone’s not going to buy something, but think how many people we’re exposing our store to,” she said.
She said Lexington shoppers sometimes drive to Charlottesville and Washington, D.C., for products such as high-end makeup and lingerie without realizing that many are sold in Lexington.
“The way to entice people to shop local is to at least know what’s offered local,” she said. “It’s not everything, but at least look here first.”
Markham said she too hoped Spruce Up for Spring would reach a wider audience.
“I hope it touches the outreach market and daytrippers,” she said.
Out-of-town shoppers Sue Smith, Karen Chamberlain and Ann Misener, retirees who have been friends since elementary school, take quarterly trips to different towns in the Shenandoah Valley to shop. Spruce Up for Spring coincided with their visit to Lexington.
“Every store we’ve been in today, we’ve purchased something,” Chamberlain said.
Lackey came up with the idea for a series of retail events, which began about a year ago with Red Lipstick and High Heels last June. She worked with Markham to develop and advertise the event.
“Let’s have a night where stores stay open later, promote something special, get people in to look around, and see that they can shop here locally,” Lackey said.
Red Lipstick and High Heels was a “girls night out,” Markham said, but the other three events in the series were family oriented. She said Spruce Up for Spring featured products for kids, pampering for women and men, clothes and home furnishings.
“It has a fashion-show feel,” she said.
This was the first retail event for Linda Flint, owner of The Ladies Habit. She had in-store models and gave away a pair of designer jeans.
“I [didn’t] know what to expect, but I decided to participate and see what happens,” she said. “Tracey talked me into it.”