MONROE — Beginning Friday afternoon, dozens of women will camp out in front of Renn’s Nest in downtown Monroe for a chance at being one of a lucky 150 people who will win door prizes as part of the store’s anniversary event.
For the last 12 years, the Renn’s Nest, owned by Renn Farmer, has celebrated the store’s anniversary by giving out gifts to loyal customers.
But over the last few years, the annual event has grown into something much bigger.
This year, Farmer is giving away $90,000 worth of stuff to her customers. Last year, she gave away items valued at $74,000.
“Last year when we announced the anniversary extravaganza, the last person got in line at 8 p.m. Friday,” Farmer said. “This year, I know 30 to 40 people who have taken Friday off from work and will be getting in line.”
Farmer said the store opens at 10 a.m. but the street can’t be blocked until 6 p.m. Because of the huge crowd last year, Farmer got a permit from the city to close the street this year so people can camp out over night.
“I’ve had people ask if they can get in line Thursday,” Farmer said. “It’s crazy.”
The way Farmer does the drawing for prizes this year is 10 people have been selected by nomination, 10 people have won golden tickets by answering trivia questions on the store’s Facebook page, and then there will be a last chance qualifier for the golden ticket for 10 lucky people, and the first 120 people in line will receive the coveted golden ticket to get massive prize packs. Each customer’s prize pack will contain the same items.
While it may seem bizarre to just give things away to customers, Farmer said it’s important for her to give back to the community that has given her so much.
“I think small business is sometimes a tough thing and my success is because of my customers,” Farmer said.
Farmer first started her business after friends started asking her to put together soap and goody baskets for gifts — something she’d done once for a family member – and then word got out.
Eventually she opened a store in Unionville and a kiosk in the Monroe Crossings mall. But several years ago she opened up her store in downtown Monroe and hasn’t looked back.
“I have a loyal group of people who shop with me and even during the recession and tough times, our sales were up,” she said. “You can come buy something expensive, or an inexpensive piece of jewelry. We offer for all price ranges, and it just makes a woman feel good to get a necklace for $10 that makes her dress look great.
“We’ve survived a lot and our customers are the reason,” she continued. “They’re very loyal to us and it’s just our way of saying we appreciate you and thank you for what you do. The excitement is crazy.”
And because the event has gotten so big, with women camping over night, Farmer will order pizza for the crowd Friday night and there will be a stage set up with a karaoke machine. Saturday, breakfast will be served and there will be a fashion show and a chance for one lucky winner to win $1,000 in Renn’s Nest cash to spend in the store. There also will be a DJ and line dancing, and then around 8:30 a.m. they’ll begin announcing the winners of the golden tickets. At 9:30 a.m., the giveaway begins.
Following the giveaway is the store’s annual sale.
“You can get some amazing deals,” she said.
Farmer said based on previous years, she expects to see about 300 to 400 people coming through the door Saturday.
“A lot of people, as crazy as it sounds, will get the prizes, but then they’ll bring friends and come shop or just hang out for the event,” Farmer said. “It’s fun, whether you’ve got a golden ticket or not, but it’s more exciting if you’ve got a golden ticket. Lots of people are excited about it.”
For more information on the Renn’s Nest, located at 208 N. Main St., Monroe, and the anniversary extravaganza, visit www.rennsnest.com, call 704-291-3080 or find the store on Facebook.