CONWAY — “Bring A Friend,” the annual “girlfriend getaway” shopping weekend at Settlers Green, is coming up on its 19th anniversary this Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 8-11.
According to General Manager Dot Seybold, Settlers began partnering in 2000 with the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce to build up November as shopping season, and it caught on like wildfire.
“For years we had noticed groups of women dressing up in holiday attire in early November at the shopping center,” said Seybold. “We thought, ‘There’s something here.’”
The first official Bring A Friend event was in November 2001.
“I think we gave away 100 shopping bags that first year and provided some free refreshments,” Seybold said.
Every year since, the event has grown in attendance as well as in expectation. There are now 2,000 shopping bags prepared every year, thousands of dollars in merchandise raffled off and a great amount of community involvement.
According to Settlers Green Marketing and Events Director Laura Lemieux, “We provide shopper itineraries with local offerings and lodging partners, so many have extended their visit from day trips to extended weekend getaways.”
Carol Sullivan, director of sales and marketing at the White Mountain Hotel and Resort, said: “Since the inception of the ‘Bring a Friend’ shopping events, we now experience sold-out weekends for the first three weekends in November, and it extends throughout the entire month.”
This year’s 19th annual Bring A Friend shopping weekend is Nov. 8 through 11, with the bulk of activities happening on Saturday, Nov. 9. Aside from bargain hunting, shoppers get access to raffles, social media giveaways, experiences and entertainment during Bring A Friend. The “big day” on Saturday, Nov. 9, kicks off with a 1,500-shopping-bag giveaway at 8 a.m. The entire event is free. A full listing of events, sales information and special Bring A Friend shopping hours is available at settlersgreen.com/bring-a-friend.
NOVEMBER SHOPPING EVENTS IN THE VALLEY
CONWAY — The holiday shopping season comes early to Mt. Washington Valley. While the tax-free shopping and the extraordinary array of 200 stores, outlets, boutiques and out-of-the-box shopping opportunities draw travelers throughout the year, it’s the special shopping events that draw shoppers from all over North America to the region specifically in November.
Throughout the years, the region has built November to the busiest shopping month of the year. It all started nearly two decades ago with an effort to boost November tourism in Mount Washington Valley.
In 2002, the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce launched "Harvest To Holidays," a series of events to celebrate and enhance the otherwise slow tourism season from Halloween to the start of the holidays.
For seven years, the chamber assembled hundreds of shoppers’ gift bags with coupons and gifts from local retailers for lodging properties to use to create overnight packages. The prior year, Settlers Green — the largest outlet mall in the region — created their "Bring a Friend Shopping" event to create fun shopping packages and promote early holiday shopping sprees. Quickly, November turned into a month dedicated to girlfriends shopping getaways and grew busier and busier with each successive year. This year, the Bring a Friend event is in its 19th year and is extended over 11 days.
The independently owned stores in Mt. Washington Valley, dubbed the White Mountain Independents, are getting in on the early shopping trend, too.
On Nov. 1, the ninth annual Shift Your Shopping holiday campaign was held, encouraging individuals and businesses to “shift” more of their holiday shopping, entertaining and dining to locally owned and independent businesses identified by blue flags.
The White Mountain Independents, along with 26 other businesses, organizations and networks in towns and cities throughout New Hampshire, will continue the campaign through December. The campaign is a collection of events.
Throughout Thanksgiving Weekend, Nov. 29 through Dec. 1, the White Mountain Independents will once again be celebrating Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday and, new this year, shoppers can play along with the Shop Small and Win Big Game, which lasts all weekend into Monday, Dec. 2.
November shopping events
• Nov. 8-11: Bring A Friend Shopping Specials at Settlers Green: Stores offer up special deals to celebrate the upcoming Bring A Friend celebration. Info: settlersgreen.com.
• Nov. 9: Jackson Cross-Country Ski Swap and Yard Sale: This annual event allows cross-country skiers to buy and/or sell used cross-country ski equipment. Skiers can consign their equipment ($1/item) and receive 85-percent of the selling price (or donate 100 percent of the selling price to Jackson Ski Touring Foundation). New this year, skiers can rent a selling space for $25 and keep 100 percent of the sales; and/or donate your items to the Jackson Cross-Country Yard Sale Tent. Info: jacksonxc.org
• Nov. 22: Skiers Open House at Great Glen Trails: Preview equipment, demo a fatbike and enjoy pizza during the day and hors d’oeuvres at night during the event. Special offers on all in-stock products and lots of door prizes too. Info: greatglentrails.com or (603) 466-2333.
• Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 29-Dec. 1: Christmas at the Castle in the Clouds: Find the perfect Christmas present for that hard-to-shop-for person. Tour the mansion, then enjoy cocoa with Santa, too.
• Nov. 29: Black Friday in the Valley: Stores at Settlers Green open at 6 a.m. and stay open until 9 p.m. Visit the Settlers Green Customer Service for Doorbuster Giveaway and an Early Bird Raffle from 6-10 a.m. Look for sales throughout the valley. Store hours vary at independent stores.
• Nov. 29-Dec. 1: Plaid Friday/Small Business Saturday: White Mountain Independents celebrate Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday with special offers and in-store games and giveaways.
• Nov. 30: Great Glen Trails Craft Fair: From 9 a.m.-3 p.m., crafters take over the base lodge and are spread out on all three floors. Woodworking, photography, knitting, specialty soaps and lotions, jewelry, wreaths, and more — including live demonstrations. A great way to find that unique gift for the hard-to-shop-for. Info: greatglentrails.com/craftfair.
To plan a November shopping getaway and for a full calendar of November events, go to the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce website, mtwashingtonvalley.org.