Store opens on Millwood for Bloom tickets, items
The atmosphere was lively when the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival Official Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet opened for the season Monday.
About 30 people were waiting in line outside to buy tickets to the 86th festival when the store opened its doors at 10 a.m. at its new location, 107 Millwood Ave. in Winchester.
The 2,100-square-foot space — about 1,700 square feet is storefront and the rest storage — is one of the smallest vacant spaces the Apple Blossom Store has had donated in several years, said Dick Crane, cochairman of the festival’s souvenir sales. The property, the former home of the Vac Shack, is owned by the Aikens Group in Winchester.
“The ladies do a good job of making use of the space,” he said.
Every available surface, wall, and even some of the ceiling space is covered in pink and green merchandise, and there is more in the back ready to come out as sales progress through the month, he said. A small room within the larger space has been set aside for the sale of Apple Blossom flags.
Limited parking might be an issue on busier days, so employees will use the street around the store so customers can park in the lot, said Cathy Lawler, Crane’s co-chair.
The Monday crowd mostly bypassed the merchandise and headed straight for the ticket counter, although a few stayed behind to shop.
According to ticket director Wayne Corbett, the hottest seller was the Sheetz Thursday Night Fever Disco Dance Party, set for May 2. Other top sellers were the new Jim Stutzman Chevrolet-Cadillac ’80s Dance Party, set for May 3, and front-row tickets for the May 4 Chevrolet Grand Feature Parade.
For the second year in a row, Denise Winfield, 65, of Stephens City was first in line. She arrived at 8:10 a.m. to buy 14 Grand Feature parade tickets, but was only alone about 20 minutes before the next people came.
“I want to get the seats I love the best on Braddock Street,” she said.
Working behind the counter, festival President LouAnn Thompson surveyed the room with a smile. She considers it “the most beautiful store we have ever had,” but admits she might be a little biased.
“If you asked (former festival presidents) Tom Scully and Elaine Aikens, they would probably say the same of their years,” she said.
Although not store related, she added that there will be a change regarding this year’s grand marshal. He or she will be chosen by the festival sponsor, Winchester-based National Fruit, rather than festival personnel.
“This is a little different. It is exciting,” she said.
An announcement date has not been set yet to reveal the grand marshal, she said.
Thompson also praised Lawler for the job she did in pulling this year’s festival theme, “Love to Bloom,” into the store so thoroughly.
It took 20 volunteers working about 300 hours in March to get the store ready, but Lawler said she is thrilled with the results. The store will remain open through May 7.
New this year are brightly colored deco polymesh wreaths and a variety of handmade fabric merchandise such as table runners, bread baskets and placemats, Lawler said.
“We have a lot of new homemade stuff,” she said. “I am finding more and more people like things that are homemade.”
After being absent last year, the collectible festival matchbox cars are back this year, she said. The store also will sell one made with the 85th festival’s information on it, “so there is no break in the series.”
Other items packing the store include clothing, jewelry, pens, pins, journals, hats, bags, candles, glasses, picture frames and neck ties.
The store will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. April 14, 21 and 28. The store will open 30 minutes early April 22-27.
For details on festival events, go to thebloom.com.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org