WineDOWNtown Brings Lake Wales Residents Downtown to Enjoy Local Businesses
by James Coulter
More than 20 local shops and boutiques remained open after hours to allow residents an opportunity to browse their wares and sample drinks and food during the annual WineDOWNtown on Thursday evening.
Hosted by Lake Wales Main Street, the downtown event allowed residents and visitors alike to purchase tickets and travel to various downtown businesses to sample wine, craft beer, and appetizers while also seeing what each store had to offer.
More than 20 stores and boutiques participated that evening, including Cocoa Cake Studio, Kathyrn’s Bookstore, and many others. For many residents, it was their first time visiting these places, even if they are located in their own hometown, said Karen Thompson, LWMS Executive Director.
“Some of these people did not even know these businesses were even here, so it is just people gathering and going to different places,” she said.
Lake Wales Main Street is a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing the downtown area and hosting events to draw people, especially potential customers, to local businesses. WineDOWNtown proves especially popular, as it actually draws people inside downtown businesses.
“It is always a sold-out event,” she said. “We can bring thousands of people downtown, but we cannot guarantee that they go inside. This is the event we can say 350 people were inside your business.”
Amanda Calhoun owns and operates Southern Roots, a salon that also serves as a boutique that sells home decor, gifts, and accessories. Her business has been around for nearly a decade, and this event allowed even more potential customers to learn more about it.
“It think it has been very good,” she said. “We had a lot of good feedback. Meeting new people and socializing. They met our expectations.”
Rachel Cullen has been running Cocoa Cake Studio for three years. Her business sells custom cakes, cake pops, and other baked goods. That evening alone, she saw many people she normally does not see arrive to her shop, so she hopefully was introduced to many new customers.
“It is a good chance to bring people downtown that we normally do not get to see and it is a huge turnout so far,” she said. “We were slammed when they were open. [It] more than met our expectations.”