PILOT MOUNTAIN — Ladies Night Out, a unique downtown event here, continues to gain popularity among both customers and local business owners.
“It is simply an evening of fun marketed toward what women enjoy,” states the website ladiesinpilot.com.
As on each Ladies Night Out, participating downtown businesses will be open Thursday, June 23 from 4 to 9 p.m., offering specials and a chance to shop outside of typical working hours.
The event is the brain child of town commissioner Kim Quinn.
“People were saying we don’t do enough to promote downtown businesses,” Quinn said. “I said we should do something. They said, you should do something. I was joking and said, ‘lets have a ladies night.’”
The joke turned out to be a good idea.
Quinn approached the Pilot business owners with the idea of staying open late on the occasional evening.
“At first they looked at me like I’m crazy, because Pilot Mountain does not stay open at night,” but 18 businesses signed on.
The first event was held in November.
Quinn forked out $1,400 of her own money to pay for signs and balloons placed in front of each participating location and any other associated cost. The stores were only asked to be open and staffed, and to offer some kind of special for customers, such as free refreshments, door prizes, discounts and raffles.
“The town signed a resolution in November in support,” she said, but the commissioner didn’t want to pass on the cost to the town or the businesses themselves.
“I wanted to promote the event first and see if it worked.”
With about 150 customers showing up to participate, “It went really well,” Quinn said.
Sponsors signed on to support a subsequent events held in December and April, which drew about 200 people.
A key feature of the event is the passport game, which begins at a different location each time.
Folks pick up an information pack that tells all the specials and businesses that are open and a passport, which is a card with squares that can be stamped at each business they visit.
Passports with the specified number of stamps are returned at the original location to be entered in drawings for gift certificates and prizes.
The passport game, which usually results in about 50 to 70 winners, is designed to ensure those who attend become acquainted with businesses for which they may not otherwise be familiar.
The Pilot Mountain Visitors Center served as the passport location in November, “so people would become aware we had a visitors center now,” said Quinn.
Compared to similar events such as Winston-Salem’s monthly gallery hop, “this one has variety,” Quinn said.
In addition to retail stores, some businesses feature live music or entertainment.
For example, this month’s passport location, Surry Community College’s Pilot Center on East Main Street, will have free line dancing and shag dancing classes beginning at 5 p.m. Passports will be available at 4 p.m., with a free tote bag and T-Shirt given to the first 200 people through the door.
Customers can get their hair done, eyebrows waxed, manicures and pedicures at a plethora of beauty salons.
Many locations offer craft projects, canvas art classes or jewelry making.
Quinn said she herself was surprised to run across an interactive firearm simulator at a local gun shop that the Surry County Sheriff’s Department uses for training.
“I didn’t know it was there,” she said.
Despite its title, Ladies Night is an equal opportunity event.
“It’s marketed for women, but we do have men that attend and children,” she said. “We don’t monitor it. It’s open to anybody.”
Quinn guessed that the family friendly aspect is a strong feature of the event.
“There’s not a lot to do in Pilot Mountain that’s family oriented,” she said. “We have Mayfest and the cruise-ins, but both allow outside vendors. Not that that’s a bad thing, but this highlights the local businesses.”
The number of participating businesses has grown to 27 signed on for the June event.
“I can’t speak for all but the majority, they’re grateful for an event that’s about them. That’s the thing I’m most excited about,” Quinn said, adding, “I think it has been a huge success for the public,” to get to know more about what local businesses have to offer.
“We have a mountain that’s pretty cool, but we have a town that’s pretty cool.”
More information about Ladies Night Out in Pilot Mountain can be found at ladiesinpilot.com, and the Ladies Night Out on Main Street in Pilot Mountain Facebook page, which is updated regularly with participating businesses and the specials that will be offered.
Some crafts and entertainment require registration.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.