By Joshua Maloni
Lewiston’s first big shopping event of the year has arrived, with the return of “Sip. Shop. Eat!” on Saturday, March 11.
Sort of a hybrid between Small Business Saturday and a warm-weather festival, the event matches merchant sales with restaurant deals, and boasts in-store pairings with other local businesses and wineries. What’s more, customers can take a punch card and enter to win one of almost a dozen gift baskets.
“This is our fourth annual year of doing it; and it's a great event, because we have a number of shops that have other small businesses also featured in their shops,” said The Rose Hanger owner Sara Liberale. “It's a great way to not only support the businesses that are on Center Street, but also other local businesses that aren't necessarily on the forefront; that maybe you wouldn't visit on a regular Saturday.”
Town of Lewiston Clerk Donna Garfinkel, whose husband, Neil, operates Sgt. Peppers Hot Sauces, Etc., said, “Shoppers are encouraged to come to the shops, and they would visit all the shops. They would start at a shop that has a gold balloon. There's punch cards available in those. And then they would go to the different shops that are all participating. … I would have to say that just about every shop on Center Street is participating this year. It’s going to be awesome.
“They would go and they would get their punch card, and then they would visit the different shops, purchase different items, get their punch card punched. Then, at the end of the day, when they're done, go to any one of the 10-11 participating restaurants, and there'll be a bag for them to drop their punch card off.”
Liberale said, “The punch cards are a great way to also stop into shops that maybe you wouldn't normally stop at. So, every shop that you go in, you'll have the opportunity to have a punch card punched – and you don't have to purchase anything to have your card punched. When your card is full, you would then drop that off at one of the restaurants that are participating.
“And you can identify all those things with the balloons that will be out that day. The gold balloons signal places that have punch cards; the red balloons are places that will have sips and shops; and the blue balloons are places where you can eat.”
Garfinkel said, “We have at least 10 baskets, so far, with $70 or more of gift certificates and different items from all of the participating shops in Lewiston. So, you have a great opportunity to win a nice basket with stuff that you'll be able to use. Gift certificates to the restaurants and to the different shops, and actual items from the different shops.”
Businesses participating in “Sip. Shop. Eat!” will have special sales and/or special guests, so this particular shopping opportunity isn’t the run-of-the-mill Saturday stroll.
For example: “At The Rose Hanger Shop, I will have Kin Loch Farmstead,” Liberale said. “She will be in that day with some sips from her shop. We will have both alcoholic and nonalcoholic options. I will also be doing discounts storewide.”
Liberale added, Kin Loch Farmstead “is a beautiful lavender farm that's located in Lockport, so probably not somewhere you would normally visit if you were on Center Street; but she will be in my shop that day.”
Garfinkel said, “It's just a great way to come out and enjoy yourself. Stroll up and down. There'll be wineries at some of the different spots, and just enjoy yourself – and just start at one end, go to the other end, and shop, and see what we have to offer.”
Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Pauly said, “The ‘Sip. Shop. Eat!’ event is organized by the retailers and is a great way to get people out and shop during the winter season. We can feel spring around the corner. The winter weather this year has forced businesses to adjust their hours quite a bit, limiting customer foot traffic. This event will bring people out looking to shop, fill out their passport to win a prize, and end the evening at one of our dining establishments! Most of the stores have paired with another business at their location!
“The Saturday event has grown organically over the past five years, with businesses working together to encourage foot traffic throughout the Village of Lewiston.”