By Lee Noles
MONROE – A monthly shopping opportunity hosted by several locally owned stores begins June 7, with the hopes of continuing a trend by retailers and city officials to bring more people to downtown during the evening hours.
Eight stores have joined Girls’ Night Sip and Shop, which takes place the first Thursday of each month from 4 to 7 p.m. and includes opportunities to win gift cards and other items.
The businesses involved are Peddler’s Paradise, 47K Marketplace, Silver Lining, Consigning Chicks, M-Bellish, Studio Boutique, The Faded Rose and Hilton Vineyard.
“I want to see it draw more people into Monroe and away from Charlotte and the surrounding area,” said Beth Tourtellot, who owns Peddler’s Paradise. “I want them to see the small businesses and shop local and try and get away from the bigger stores.”
Tourtellot first approached business owners about doing something in downtown after noticing success Matthews had with a similar function several years ago. The Monroe event begins with customers getting a card and receiving a signature from the owner or employee at the first business they attend. If they get signatures from all eight of the businesses, they are can be placed into a drawing for a swag bag, which will contain either items from each of the stores or gifts cards to the businesses which amount to $100.
“I thought it would be awesome,” said Kay Klaren, who owns 47K Marketplace. “I think it is a good way to get a lot of shoppers that will find out who we are. I am also thinking it was pretty cool with getting eight businesses involved to help out with Monroe.”
Shellee Comer has been in downtown for the last nine years as owner of Silver Lining. Comer said she’s made a major push to tell patrons of the event when they come to her store.
“You have to have something that can draw them in,” said Comer, who mentioned she had more than 200 people who have shown interest on her Facebook page of the event. “We have stayed open for car shows and music, but when people come to hear music, they come to hear music and not shop. Those events are great, but with this event, we are focusing in on trying to get people to downtown for the retail.”
Monroe City Coordinator Matt Black said in the past year, five businesses have opened in downtown and the city has put more than $1.4 million into beautification projects. Monroe is also planning a combined $9 million to go into restoring the movie theater on Main Street and a new interactive science building geared towards elementary and middle school students across from the public library. Black said both are looking to open in 2019.
Black said what the city and business owners have done with events similar to the Girls ‘Night Sip and Shop could have a positive impact by not just bringing people to the downtown area in the evening, but also having businesses stay open later.
“The city has made strides, and by having those events, we hope it will get people to downtown,” Black said. “And hopefully more businesses can adjust those hours.”