No added gimmicks were needed to attract bargain-hunting women when, 10 years ago, the 7 Mile Business Community Association conceived the idea of Shop-A-Holics Weekend, a three-day sale with all the major shops and boutiques in Avalon and Stone Harbor all convening at the Princeton Bar & Grill and the Whitebrier. But men were another story.
Fortunately, the event generally falls during March Madness — or in this case, just before it from Thursday to Saturday, March 2 to 4 — which was just the push dudes needed to join in on the fun.
“We have the three ‘Bs’ – beer, burgers and basketball,” says Kathy Wierzbicki, owner of the women’s boutique Tiger Lily and coordinator of Shop-A-Holics Weekend. “All the TVs (at the Princeton) will be on with basketball games. What’s not for a guy to like?”
Kevin Segar, owner of Avalon’s Hassis Men’s Shop, used to have his own annual clearance sale around the same time of year as Shop-A-Holics, but for the past eight years, he’s participated in this event only.
“Now that they’ve started this (Shop-A-Holics Weekend), I just go in with them,” says Segar, who’s busy prepping for this week’s sale. “It’s just gotten bigger and bigger over the years.”
Segar says that mostly what you’ll find at his table and others is the merchandise that retailers want “to get rid of.”
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“Some bring things from last summer or what they had through the Christmas season,” says Segar, whose Newtown Square location is open year round, Avalon’s seasonally. “I bring merchandise from my main store (Newtown Square) that I’m clearing out to make room for new spring merchandise.”
As a men’s clothier, Segar learned his lesson fast with regard to what specific items to bring to Shop-A-Holics and what to leave in the store.
“I used to bring suits and sports coats, but they’re not conducive to this kind of shopping. It’s too much work. This is more impulse buying — sweaters, shirts, scarves, shoes,” he explains. “I can sell a cashmere sweater easy. But a suit, it’s not worth it.”
Even though Segar claims that “90 percent” of the shops in Shop-A-Holics Weekend are for women, his location within the Princeton makes Hassis a popular stop.
“We set up by the bar … it’s filled with people. I guess I benefit from people just turning around and there I am — I’m in their face,” he says.
According to Wierzbicki, 30 to 35 shops will be on hand with “quality merchandise that’s severely marked down.”
“I’ll have a $200 dress that’ll be $40 and a $100 dress for $20,” she cites as examples.
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Aside from Tiger Lily and Hassis, other shops include Armadillo (gifts and tabletop); Coastal FX (jewelry and gifts); Wayward Gardener (gifts and garden essentials); Coffee Talk (baked goods, coffees, bagels); and She Be Surfin’ (kids and adults surf shop), among others.
“People think of this as a spring kick-off event. And it can get pretty crazy. People are excited about the deals, so they can be a little aggressive.
“We’ll just leave it at that,” she laughs.