Downtown Lake Wales Hosts Inagural Hop Shop & Stroll
by James Coulter
Hidden within the corner of the Rhodesbilt Arcade in Downtown Lake Wales is a quaint little gift shop called The Preppy Pineapple. Showcased here are many quaint items ranging from pocket books and picture frames to handcrafted mermaids attached to white memo boards.
Lisa Camann opened this little shop after spending 14 years teaching within the local school system. She decided that a small town such as hers deserved a small niche gift shop with such small niche items.
“I love the downtown hometown feel of it,” she said. “I felt that we needed a gift shop down here…It was a dream of mine to open one, so here we are.”
Having been open for a few months, she decided to participate within the inagural Hop Shop And Stroll event last Thursday evening as a way to draw in potential customers, especially those who would have never otherwise ventured into the arcade, she said.
“It has been really good,” she said. “We have been really busy since we started…and we haven’t been slowing down yet. They have met and exceeded our expectations. We had a great turnout.”
The Preppy Pineapple was one of several dozen local downtown businesses participating within that evening’s inagural event, which had attendees visit many of the shops for wine tasting and food sampling.
When not eating and drinking, attendees could peruse the different businesses and their wares, while also chatting it up with many of the local business owners.
Karen Thompson, President of Lake Wales Main Street, has helped host many local downtown events, but wanted to host one that would actually draw local residents and visitors into the stores rather than simply outside along the streets.
“We wanted to get people physically into the businesses,” she said.
The initial turnout exceeded expectations, with more than a hundred attendees arrived that evening to carry around a wine glass, sample wines and craft beers, and mingle with other local residents and business owners, Thompson said.
She loved being able to see so many people wander up and down the streets smiling and chatting with each other while perusing the local businesses that the downtown area had to offer. To her, any event that helps promote local commerce is a success.
“This is beyond our expectations,” she said. “What is exciting is that we have so many people coming back and saying I didn’t even know The Preppy Pineapple is here.”
For many new businesses, the event allowed them the opportunity to gain visibility and entertain potential customers, many of whom would probably not have even known about these businesses had the event not been hosted that evening.
One such business, Moore Angel’s Retail Boutique, is a local thrift store that raises proceeds to help facilitate local programs and services such as emergency financial assistance, community cleanups, and disaster relief programs.
Angela Ward, the store’s owner, appreciated how this event drew in many people into the store, especially since it had opened several months ago.
“Everyone has been coming in like, ‘we didn’t know you were here, but we definetly have to come back,’ and they really love the store,” she said. “It has certainly been positive.”
Even long-time businesses appreciated the additional attention to their stores. Mayer’s Jewelry has been in operation for 46 years, yet even then, it managed to draw in many customers who never knew about it until that event, explained owner, Briana Mayer.
“So of course, we are super excited to be part of any event that is going on downtown that helps to bring business here,” she said. “I still think there are a lot of people who may not be aware that we are here downtown and what all we have to provide for our clients downtown…So it gives us the opportunity to share a little more about what we do.”