Saturday, December 03, 2011

Downtown Oak Park Cookie Walk: It's like treat or treating for grown-ups

Downtown Oak Park has hosted a Winterfest cookie walk for a few years, but this was the first year we participated. It's actually kind of a genius idea--the merchants association sells shoppers a large, branded tin and then you get to stop into all the participating shops and get a single cookie from each one.

Many of the stores are places we regularly frequent (The Book Table, Sugar Fixe, Pumpkin Moon and Penzey's Spices), but there were a few new restaurants and some retail outlets I've never been to before, so experiencing them in a casual and friendly way let me get a glimpse around without feeling guilty about leaving fairly quickly. It seems like a good marketing strategy too--get a lot of shoppers milling around downtown Oak Park and popping into every shop on Lake Street and Marion. What surprised me was how few merchants included a shop sticker, coupon or flier with their cookie. Most handed out cookies from Bleeding Heart Bakery, Prairie Bread Kitchen and Cheryl's--all lovely local treats, but why not staple a 20% off store coupon to that baggie?

Even before they got their faces painted with Stars of David and dreidels at Potbelly's it was a lot of fun for the girls--particularly after they figured out a method of receiving treats that maximized both of their participation. The highlight of the day, aside from running into friends, was watching a sleight of hand magician use Zoe as his assistant.

Also, it was about 50 degrees out there. Where's winter? It's December!