By SEAN ROWLEY
Ladies Night Out is becoming an annual pre-holidays tradition downtown, and shoppers flocked to the Muskogee Avenue corridor Thursday to look for bargains and thoughtful gifts.
The event, organized by the Tahlequah Main Street Association, featured extended hours for 28 downtown shops. Several businesses staged giveaways and held sales specifically for the event. Some also offered food and beverages.
Many local shoppers seized the opportunity to start their holiday shopping.
“Christmas shopping is definitely a reason I came to this event,” said Ashli Stanley, who traveled from Teresita. “I visited with a couple of friends last year, and it was fun to see all the shops that had opened recently - and drink a little wine. This year, there are a couple of new boutiques that I really want to check out. I think it is great that the Main Street Association is doing this. It is really good for the community.”
The event began at 5 p.m. in conjunction with the opening of the annual Snowflake Winter Festival, though inclement weather delayed the opening of the ice rink. Shops kept their doors open until 9 p.m.
A popular stop was a booth at Norris Park, where patrons could enter a grand prize drawing. The winner will receive gifts or cards worth at least $25 from each of the 28 participating businesses.
The intermittent rain showers had little effect on the turnout the shoppers.
“I’m walking all around and getting my exercise - I didn’t get to the gym this morning,” said Kathy Ryals. “Entering the prize drawing is reason enough to be here. There was some rain to deal with last year, and I still had fun.”
A limousine bus traveled Muskogee and Water avenues to transport shoppers to and from downtown. The TMSA also arranged valet parking.
Amanda Harris, owner of Obsession Boutique, opened her store five months ago. She expressed excitement about Ladies Night Out, and for good reason: At 5:10 p.m., her floor was bustling.
“This business is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve put a lot of work into it,” Harris said. “This event is a blessing and the turnout is great. We are offering 15 percent off storewide, and anyone who makes a purchase is entered in a drawing for a $100 gift card.”
Shoppers and shopkeepers expressed equal enthusiasm for Ladies Night Out, an event that Drew Haley, TMSA director, said will run like clockwork.
“It will always be on the Thursday before Thanksgiving - people can mark their calendars each year,” he said.
Shoppers appreciate the heads-up.
“Tahlequah is the best place to be at Christmastime,” said shopper Sueann Freeman. “It is a great place to shop and a great place to live.”
For information about TMSA events, call Haley at (918) 431-1655.