Local businesses see record days thanks to Festival of Wizardry - Oct. 19, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
The Festival of Wizardry took place at the Blyth Campground over the weekend and resulted in significant foot traffic in the village’s downtown core.
Several business representatives reported having the best sales days they have ever experienced as a result of the increased population of the village as more than 6,000 people attended the Festival.
The Queens Bakery had an ‘unbelievable’ day on Saturday according to co-owner Les Cook.
“We didn’t know what to expect but it could not have been any better,” he said. “We couldn’t believe the numbers and there was nothing anyone could have done to make it better.”
Sunday was also a good day for the business as it stayed open for visitors to the Festival who either hadn’t realized the event was cancelled due to weather or were making the best of their day.
“It wasn’t the same as Saturday, but it was a better-than-average day that’s for sure. There were a lot of sad people, not mad, but sad people who were upset they couldn’t attend the event but they were very appreciative of the village’s efforts.”
Cook said he took stock of the weekend on Sunday night and determined they could not have squeezed any more people in to the restaurant for the event.
“It was great for both sides of the counter,” he said.
Irene Kellins of Stitches with a Twist (which became Witches with a Twist for the weekend) said she also had a great weekend.
“What we had was absolutely amazing,” she said. “We retailers did well and people were commenting on our involvement.”
Kellins said she was cleared out of every wizard-themed item she carried for the event and that the store had its best day since it opened just over five years ago.
“I’ve had good days before, but this outreached them all by half,” she said. “We were wall-to-wall from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.”
She said she hopes the event runs again next year and has already started planning.
“If people thought the downtown businesses were involved this year, they won’t believe what we can do given a full year to get ready,” she said.
Peter Gusso of Part II Bistro had a two-fold experience with the event, hosting guests at his restaurant as well as having a booth at the grounds.
“It was amazing and unbelievable,” Gusso said. “It was among our best days ever at the store and it was a record breaker for numbers.”
Both Part II Bistro’s presence on the grounds and the downtown storefront had steady business throughout Saturday, Gusso said, and on Sunday the storefront welcomed many people who planned to be at the event.
“It was busy on Sunday,” he said. “We still had some Festival stragglers coming through. They were disappointed that the event did get cancelled, but, if you went down there and saw the event space with the porta-potties on the ground and tents blowing in the wind, the right decision was made.”
Gusso said he loved the event and he heard from other businesses in town that they experienced similar booms in customers and sales.
Bev Elliott of Maple and Moose (or Magical Moose as it was called for the weekend) said she saw wall-to-wall festival participants in the store through the weekend both for the scavenger hunts. which led people downtown, as well as buying memorabilia.
“Sunday was also a very good day as some of the participants came to town not knowing the event had been cancelled,” she said. “It was a great weekend and I sure hope they come back next year.”
Elliott said the store plans on having a themed corner for wizarding equipment in the store for future events and visits from Harry Potter enthusiasts.
Maryann Gavin, who also worked at Magic Moose over the weekend, said that of the 20 individual artisans who display their goods at Maple and Moose, many created some themed merchandise for the event including night lights, broomsticks, aprons, pillows and pillowcases, jewelry, wands, pens, wall plaques and more.
She said the event was a benefit for Blyth and the surrounding communities.
“This kind of activity is good for the local economy as we witnessed first hand,” she said. “I trust we will grow and learn from this and start now to plan for [next year’s event].”