New event debuts March 2; more than 30 businesses expected to participate
By Joshua Maloni
Public perception says that, while spring and summer in Lewiston are bustling with people listening to music, shopping, eating outdoors, playing on the waterfront and laughing with friends, winter in Lewiston is filled with snow, the noise of crickets and an occasional tumbleweed.
If that’s truly the case, then it’s good some people have stepped up to provide more cold-weather-month activities.
A small group of business owners tag-teamed to offer the first “Holiday Kick-off Lewiston Style” last November, while both Jamie Symmonds and the Lewiston Lions Club hosted holiday markets. The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce bulked-up the Christmas Walk in December, and has already hosted one business blender this year.
Now, an even larger contingent of retailers and restaurateurs are working together to present the first “Sip. Shop. Eat! Lewiston Style” event on Saturday, March 2.
“You know coming to Lewiston that’s how it is,” Inspirations on Canvas owner Kathy Pignatora said of the winter doldrums. “But I don’t think it’s how it has to be. So, we’re trying to make a dent in that; make some changes.”
The idea for “Sip. Shop. Eat!” came to Pignatora when she was dining in Niagara-on-the-Lake. She began to brainstorm ideas with You & Me proprietor Laura Mann Falsetti, and then pitched the idea to village business owners.
As of this writing, more than 30 participants will take part in “Sip. Shop. Eat!” The list includes Apple Granny Restaurant, Brickyard Pub & B.B.Q/Brickyard Brewing Company, Carmelo’s Coat of Arms, Casa Antica, Cask + Cow, Cheri Amour, Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen, Mad Hatter Tea House, The Orange Cat Coffee Co., Sgt. Peppers Hot Sauces, Etc., Spice Harbor, Village Goldsmith and The Village Bake Shoppe.
“You know, it’s such a drab time of year. It’s our quiet time. We are going to work harder to keep coming up with things to keep us fresh and new and exciting, to help get people here when they normally wouldn’t come here,” Pignatora said. “We’re trying to fill in where there aren’t festivals or events. And I know everybody loves Lewiston, and I always hear that – and we all do; we all love Lewiston – but it does take events to get people here. And so, we’ve got to come up with ways.”
Sgt. Peppers Hot Sauces owner Neil Garfinkel said, “I’ve never seen the merchants all get together on something and have success with it.”
He said the “Holiday Kick-off” was “a really good day.”
“It was just all the businesses getting together,” he said. “We made something happen with no outside help. It was great, and I think we’re doing that again.”
Local wineries will be on hand at select stores to provide the “Sip” from 2-6 p.m. Those also are prime “Shop” hours. Patrons can “Eat!” at any time, but are encouraged to visit Lewiston eateries for dinner.
“Holiday Kick-off” and “Sip. Shop. Eat!” are meant to complement Chamber of Commerce festivals and events.
“We want to take the bull by the horn on this. They do other stuff. And we’re going to work together. But this is something that we’re really proud of,” Pignatora said.
She added, “As business owners, our feeling is, honestly, they do a lot already. And we can do this. And we can do it (by) everybody sharing and pooling resources.”
The Chamber of Commerce agreed to be the point of contact for out-of-area guests headed to Lewiston for “Sip. Shop. Eat!” President Jennifer Pauly said, “Any event or promotion that will bring people out to stimulate the economy is a great thing! The ‘off-tourist season’ months are hard for everyone, and this year the weather has been unpredictable from one week to the next. We are excited that the businesses came up with a promotion to help combat the winter blues and get people excited to get out!
“The chamber helps provide the necessary resources, opportunities and tools to help businesses get people in their door. We want all of our business members to be successful in their promotions.”
In addition to store discounts and dining specials, sippers and shoppers can enter to win $500 in gift certificates. Two prize baskets will be awarded. No purchase is required. People need only pick up a punch card and accumulate 10 punches by visiting 10 participating retailers. Once they’ve signed the back of the completed punch card, they can drop it off at any Center Street restaurant with a blue star balloon.
Punch cards will be available at Samana Salt Spa, 700 Center St.; The Country Doctor, 549 Center St.; Viva Nostalgia, 445 Center St.; and John Lang Designs, 442 Center St.
Sgt. Peppers’ Donna Garfinkel collected prizes. She said, “There’s 33 different businesses that are included in this so far. Everybody just wants to get together and do something together, and it’s been huge. Response has been unbelievable.”
She said the punch cards will “get the people to come back again that might’ve never been here before. … It’ll also get them into stores that they might not have been to, because each one will have its own amount of stuff.”
Pignatora said “Sip. Shop. Eat!” is not a pub-crawl.
“We want this to be a fun, safe event,” she said. “It’s free. There’s no overhead, as far as folks coming in. If they want to buy, they buy; if they don’t, they don’t. There’s no tickets. There’s no obligation to buy anything to get the punch. It’s just to get people out and see what’s going on and breathe some life into the village.”
Deputy Mayor Claudia Marasco said, “I think it’s going to bring a lot of people into the village, and I think (the organizers’) enthusiasm is outstanding.”
She added, “I think this will turn into something that will help businesses during those winter months when they’re not producing much of an income.
“Lewiston is open for business all year long. Come, get out of your car – you’ll find something to do.”
Click HERE for more information and a full list of “Sip. Shop. Eat!” participants.
This poster was designed by Laura Mann Falsetti at You & Me Boutique.
In addition to the this list, "Sip. Shop. Eat!" participants include: Canterbury Place, Roaming Table and Soully Created.
Additional event details can be found on the Lewison Business Group Facebook event page, HERE.