There’ll be plenty of bargains and special promotions, along with a little mystery, when the Best Kept Secrets Tour debuts next month in Cumberland County.
The event runs April 19 through May 5 and features 28 Cumberland County businesses. The names of participating businesses are listed on the tickets but will remain a mystery until the time of purchase.
Businesses are located in Newville, New Cumberland, Mount Holly, Carlisle, Lemoyne, Boiling Springs, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg and Enola.
“It’s part of the secret – part of the fun,” said Susan Weaver, tour organizer.
Weaver compared the event to a home and garden tour.
“People can go (to the participating businesses) at their leisure,” she said. “Their ticket is good for the entire tour period. They can go as many days as they like, and as many times as they like. It runs Monday to Saturday (each week), 10 to 5.”
According to Weaver, businesses on the tour will offer refreshments, games, gifts, demonstrations, workshops, tours and make-and-take projects. Proceeds will benefit Project SHARE.
“This unique shopping, food and fun event showcases small, independently owned businesses … The shops are hand-picked for their uniqueness and are varied so there’s something for everyone,” she said.
Participating businesses focus on everything from home décor, furniture and antiques, to clothing, jewelry and books. There will also be boutiques and shops that sell toys, wine, coffee tea, herbs, pottery, hand-blown glass, photography, flowers, crafts and soaps.
Weaver said the tour will also showcase the area’s architecture and take visitors to places like an ice cream fountain “with an interesting history.”
Weaver became interested in organizing the event locally after shopping in a Best Kept Secrets Tour in Lancaster County.
“They’re a lot of fun,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed shopping local and supporting small businesses, and I thought it would be a great idea for Cumberland County, which is where I live.”
The Best Kept Secrets Tour program was founded by Melissa Nordhoff, who held the first tour in Lancaster County in 2008. Since then, it has expanded into 12 counties in Pennsylvania and two in Maryland, and raised more than $95,000 for local charities, according to Weaver.
She (Nordhoff) had her own small business with her mom, and they were looking for new ways to develop more traffic into their store in an economical way,” Weaver said.
The idea was a hit with customers.
“People taking the tours have enjoyed them so much that they asked her to expand to other counties,” she said.
She said she expects the tour to also be successful in Cumberland County.
“They have been successful everywhere she has done them … I’ve never heard anything negative about them,” she said.
Weaver said the tour is designed to make customers “feel extra special and get the VIP treatment.”
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling Weaver at 717-516-8659.
Each ticket includes a 12-page guide with a map, coupons and brief history of each participating business.