The biannual “Progressive Shopping Event” on the square will be Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. Attendees at the invitation-only event will enjoy snacks and drinks, collect free gifts, browse and shop displays and have the opportunity to win prizes at 10 different shops.
Participating stores are 2 Rules Fine Art, The Keeping Room/Church Street Market, doodlebugz, Go Fish, High Cottage, L.michelle, Limelight, Lizards & Lollipopz, Vintage-ology and Ye Olde Christmas and Candy Shoppe.
Lisa Jackson, who owns L.michelle, a woman’s apparel boutique, started the event almost eight years ago.
“A few of the ladies in town and I started trying to figure out how to get people in our stores,” she said. “We thought about having a party and it kind of evolved into this and has kept growing.”
In the beginning, about 50 shoppers attended the event but that number has grown tremendously and could bring nearly 500 this year, she said.
Each store invites its best customers, who in turn are allowed to bring along one of their girlfriends for the private shopping event.
“This is a way to cross-pollinate each other with our customers,” Jackson said about the shops. “It’s amazing how many people come in and they say they didn’t realize what stores are here.”
Each purchase enters shoppers in a raffle to win a $500 gift basket.
“It’s good exposure, whether they spend money or not,” Jackson said about getting shoppers to the Marietta Square and into independent shops.
For her, drawing customers is about personalizing the shopping experience.
“It all stems from your customer base and customer service … it’s a matter of repeat business too,” she said.
Susie Mauldin, who owns Limelight, has participated in the event for four years.
“It’s like a big Girls Night Out for us,” she said. “They giggle, laugh … it’s a very festive evening.”
Her store’s tagline is “eclectic shopping with a twist,” and she sell items such as hand blown glass ornaments, Vera Bradley bags, soy candles and fresh soaps.
“It’s a little of this and that,” she said. “And over the years we’ve seen what our customers are looking for and they expect to find the different here.”
Mauldin reminds customers that the Square is not just an “antique mecca” anymore but a place where they can find boutiques, art galleries and restaurants too.
“I think it’s about reintroducing the Square to everyone,” she said.
One of Mauldin’s invitees is Meg Crawford of Marietta.
“The good food is definitely something to note and a lot of times they have trivia contests that flow from store to store,” she said. “They are always very jubilant when they are doing these and they can’t help but pull all of us participating into it.”
Each year Crawford does a little Christmas shopping not only for family or friends but also for herself at the event.
“I live so close to the Square that I’ve always looked at the merchants there as being my neighbors, and it’s always fun to go support my neighbors and go down there to shop,” she said.
Crawford also said she enjoys shopping in downtown Marietta because it keeps tax dollars in Cobb.
“I feel strongly about supporting small businesses,” she said. “If they thrive, the community thrives and since I live in the community, I want it to thrive.”