Second annual event returns with more participants, prizes
Lewiston Business Group encourages people to get out and enjoy village
By Joshua Maloni
The Lewiston Business Group caught lightning in a bottle last year with its first “Sip. Shop. Eat! Lewiston Style.” The event debuted on a Hallmark card-like winter day and, thanks to an array of special deals at stores and restaurants, drew large crowds (and even larger sales).
A second edition was slated for 2020 and, though merchants were excited, you know what they say about sequels: They’re never as good as the original.
Lewiston small business owners accepted that challenge.
They moved “Sip. Shop. Eat!” up a month to take advantage of Valentine’s Day, and invited even more Niagara Region wineries to partner up with a merchant.
Patrons can sip and shop from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, and then head to their favorite eatery for a romantic dinner. An assortment of deals and specials will be offered.
Oh, and there’s also hundreds of dollars’ worth of prizes up for grabs.
Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Pauly said, “It’s a great way to get people out in the dead of winter to shop and have a little fun. This year, businesses have been creative in partnering with other businesses from Niagara County. We have been meeting monthly to prepare for the Feb. 8 event, and everyone is excited to work together.”
Lewiston business owners also are excited to welcome friends back to their establishments after a cold, quiet start to the year.
“It’s tough. January, after Christmas and everyone’s spending, we all get a little tighter. We just want to get some energy going again in Lewiston,” said Inspirations on Canvas owner Kathy Pignatora. “There’s so many exciting things happening here right now. In my time of being involved with Lewiston – I lived here 30 years ago, I’m here again – I’ve never seen so much change in my life. Just drive down the street and see development. It’s exciting.
“So, we want to kind of build on that. We want people to come out and see what’s going on, and things that are going to be completed by – hopefully – spring, definitely summer of 2020. … We’re trying to build on that energy, and we’re building on the energy of last year.”
Pamela Karski of Canterbury Place participated in the first “Sip. Shop. Eat!”
“I thought it was very successful,” she said. “For the short time we did it – I think it was, what, four hours – people were out and about. And they were all having fun. They all expressed that it was a great idea; that it got them out of the house. They’d been cooped up; they were tired of being cooped up. And it was something fun to do. They were all getting their little card stamped.”
Ah, yes, the punch cards.
Pignatora said, “We’re going to do the punch cards again. Nobody has to buy anything” to enter to win a gift prize or basket. “You know, it could be an absolutely free event, if you so choose, and you’re welcome to it.”
Punch cards will be available at partaking businesses marked with a gold star balloon. A red balloon will signify a sip shop, while blue balloons will indicate participating village restaurants.
“You just have to go around to 10 businesses and have the card punched,” Pignatora said. “Again, you don’t have to buy anything for that. At each of the retail and business locations, they will be again partnered with somebody, and they’ll be samplings. So, again, highlighting what we have in the Niagara Region. And then we’re asking you to take these and drop them off at the participating restaurants. Obviously, that’s to encourage you to stop and eat, have a bite to eat at our great restaurants here. But you don’t have to. It’ll be right by the front (door), and you can just drop them off.
“We’re going to be doing a drawing. Everyone’s put in – like last year, we had several rather large winnings. There were two gift baskets given away. We’re still pulling it all together. We’re going to have a couple options of chances, opportunities for people to win.
Patrons can again enter to win prizes like the ones shown in this photo.
“So, you get to come out, enjoy the afternoon, spend a little money, sprinkle it in the village, which we appreciate – or you don’t – we appreciate you coming out. And put in for a chance to win. That’s our goal is just to get people out and about.”
“Sip. Shop. Eat!” also makes for a unique date night.
“Last year we did just a sale weekend, a pre-Valentine’s sale weekend. Instead, we thought this would be a fun way to bring couples out, and we’re all going to be decorated for Valentine’s. So, kind of a fun, romantic thing to do the weekend after Super Bowl,” Pignatora said.
She added, “We just want to get people out, and not hibernate. It’s been a rather mild winter; let’s get out; let’s enjoy; we can’t just sit inside. I don’t want to watch TV every day. It’s depressing (laughs).”
Karski said it’s great to see the business community collectively showcase goods and services that can’t be found in chain retail stores.
“My goal has always been to keep people shopping in Lewiston,” she said. “Don’t give them a reason to leave. If I don’t have it, I’ll be the first one to tell you if I know somebody else in the village that has it. Because we don’t want them going up that hill. But it is nice to see everybody working together again.”
A list of “Sip. Shop. Eat!” participants can be found on the Lewiston Business Group Facebook page. Balloon locations will be updated closer to the event date.
Spice Harbor was the place to be for “Sip. Shop. Eat!” samples of snacks, soups and desserts. Owner Kristen Brolinski said the 2019 event was a big boon for business.