By SEAN ROWLEY
Downtown merchants kept their doors open late Thursday to pour wine and offer deals to shoppers during the third annual Wines of Winter event.
More than two dozen downtown businesses stayed open until 8:30 p.m. to take part in the event, which was moved from Feb. 11 due to concerns about inclement weather.
“I really enjoyed this last year,” said Taylor Kay, visiting Vivid Salon and Boutique, which served a Moscato d’Asti sparkling wine. “We like to go see which new stores are open, shop around, and try the different wines.”
Amy Carter, owner of Vivid, said Wines of Winter brings many customers through the doors.
“I think this is huge for people who work during the day and don’t make it downtown,” said Carter.
She also serves as vice president of the Tahlequah Main Street Association, which organized the event.
“I thank the entire Tahlequah community for making this such a successful event,” said Carter.
Wines of winter merchants offered special discounts and hor d’oeuvres, and those purchasing tickets could taste libations at participating locations. They were also entered into a grand prize drawing worth more than $500. Wine glasses were given to the first 450 to buy tickets.
“We parked at the North End, and we are just getting started,” said Mary Crow, who dropped in at Vivid with Kay. “Our game plan is to work our way down this side of the street and come back up the other side to the car. We’ve already been to the Dream Theater, and we’re really excited to see the rest of it because we enjoyed it so much last time.”
The date change was fortuitous for the Dream Theater, which had already scheduled Thursday and Friday screenings of “The Last TIme I Saw Paris,” the 1954 romantic film starring Elizabeth Taylor, for Valentine’s Day.
“Wines of Winter is a big deal for downtown,” said Larry Clark, manager. “It is great when people come by, see that we’re open, and are excited about it. Some say they haven’t been here since they were kids.”
The Dream also featured displays by local artists outside and in the lobby, and served a malbec from Argentina.
“I’ve tried it and I think it is a good winter wine,” said Amanda Teague, who was serving the wine and refreshments in the lobby. “It has a spicy note to it, and it is dry – very good.”
David Millican of Dos Okies Emporium, which features the work of many local and regional artists - and served Smoking Loon merlot - said his gallery welcomes a lot of traffic during TMSA events.
“At Wines in Winter last year, about 300 people were in and out of here,” he said. “We ran out of wine and they had to bring us more.”
One business took part in Wines of Winter though it hadn’t yet opened its doors. Sweet Tooth Ice Cream and Candy Shop served a red moscato.
“We thought this would be a great way to let people know that we are opening,” said co-owner Michelle Looney. “We will have 150 varieties of candies.”
Looney and Ashley Dickerson want to open the store by the weekend of Feb. 22.
“We are still waiting on some things to come in,” Dickerson said. “We’re waiting for our cash register. But people are stopping and looking inside to see what will be put in here.”
The wines, provided at a discount to the TMSA by Tomcat Liquors and Rum Rummers Discount Liquor, are on sale at their respective locations until Feb. 28.
“I’m really glad the Tahlequah Main Street Association is coming up with all these events,” Teague said. “They really help to build a relationship with downtown and the rest of Tahlequah.”