It’s been a long cold winter for downtown businesses as the record-setting snowfall and cold temperatures kept some shoppers at bay.

But that’s all starting to change. And next week, local retailers will welcome spring in a big way with their annual Boutique Blowout two-day shopping event hosted by the Andover Business Community Association.

More than 20 downtown businesses will be luring customers in their doors next Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, with specials that come around only once a year.

In addition to the retailers that have made the Boutique Blowout a much-anticipated event every year, local salons and restaurants are also getting into the act, too, this year. Stylists will be offering blowout specials and eateries will be serving up menu items and wine tastings especially for the occasion.

One big change this year is that instead of all of the retailers coming together for the sale at one location inside Old Town Hall on Main Street, as has been past tradition, each individual business owner will be welcoming shoppers into their own storefronts.

“This year, we will not be using Town Hall, but rather inviting customers to warm up with our sunny smiles right in our stores,” said Trish Martini, who owns Soiree on Main Street and is on the organizing committee for Boutique Blowout.

“We want to get the community excited about shopping downtown, despite the cold weather.”

At least two new businesses, D’Agostino’s Deli of Andover and Red Stone Liquors in Andover Village Square on Main Street, will be using the event as a chance to introduce themselves to the community.

“We want people to make a day of it. You can eat, drink and shop ... it will be fun,” Martini said.

As a further incentive for shoppers, the town of Andover is offering free parking both days of the sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in approved lots and spots.

Taylor Simpson, the owner of Nest on Barnard Street, said the event offers a chance for the downtown businesses to collaborate for the common good.  While her shop has held its own through the tricky business climate of the winter, she said others have not been as fortunate.

One shops, Wardrobe on Park Street, will be closing its doors soon, and other retailers have reported depressed sales.

“I’d like to continue to see the retailers helping each other so that every customer knows what’s happening in town, in a way that we’re all cross-promoting each other,” Simpson said.

But she said the success of the downtown ultimately requires the community’s support. She recently put out a call on the Andover Mums Facebook page encouraging people to grab three friends and head downtown for a bite to eat and some shopping. She said if the group picked three stores and everyone spent $10 apiece at each business, that would be a boon to the downtown.

The next day she had sales rivaling a busy Christmas shopping day.

“It gave me tremendous hope,” she said. “Some people don’t realize that most stores downtown have something in there for $10. If everyone came downtown and just spent $5 a month, we would all be doing well.”

An official Boutique Blowout index guide will be available next weekend at all the participating locations.

As of this week, the participants included Coco Collection, Dovetail, dresscode, Indra Salon & CityScapes, Irresistibles, Izzy’s Emporium, Chic Consignment, Madox, IM Wireless, Quiet Pleasures Jewelry, SoleArmour, Nest, Cristina’s Bridal, Kokee Flowers, Tobey Grey, Helen Thomas and Soiree and eateries Sweet Mimi’s, LaRosa’s, Casa Blanca, D’Agostino’s Deli of Andover, One Thong Cafe plus Red Stone Liquors.

Follow Boutique Blowout Andover on Facebook for developing news on the event. 

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