Forget the malls and online. Port Washington merchants want you to shop locally this holiday season and they're pulling out the stops to make it fun and rewarding. On two Wednesdays in December, merchants along Main Street are staying open late, offering entertainment and incentives both Dec. 1 and Dec. 15 from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 pm.
The evening shopping hours, billed as "Port Night Out," are designed to boost foot traffic to local merchants while showcasing Port Washington as a retail destination.
"Port Washington has a tremendous mix of boutiques, mom-and-pop merchants, dining and cultural offerings," said Mindy Germain, executive director, of . "Port Night Out will offer 'shoppertainment' from carolers to jugglers to street performers and merchant incentives, from wine, cheese, discounts and free wrapping. It's just another reason why shoppers should try Port first."
Members of Key Club will hit the street dressed as elves, joining singers from local houses of worship and roving jugglers and mimes. Virtually every merchant along Main Street will offer a holiday treat or shopping incentive.
, along with new neighbors Port Kitchen & Bath Co. and Stay & Clay, plans to roast chestnuts and pretzels on the sidewalk, helping set the stage for what organizers envision as a bustling, lively street scene.
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor has arranged for free trolleys to shuttle shoppers along the length of Main Street for both nights.
Dec. 1 is the first night of Chanukah, with the annual menorah lighting at the Long Island Rail Road station set for 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 pm. will host rabbis from the Reconstructionist Synagogue and for Chanukah stories and songs. Up the block Ayhan's is offering a pound of latkes with a $20 purchase; neighbor Glenn Bradford Fine Jewelry rounds out the holiday fare with jelly donuts and cider. is offering a free box of Chanukah candles (or Christmas light) with a $20 purchase.
Rabbi Irwin Zeplowitz from is urging congregants to turn out to support the shop local initiative. "We believe in the importance of engaging, of being involved," said Rabbi Zeplowitz. "It's in our name. We want to help the merchants and individuals who are in town because we think that creates a vibrant and lively and livable community," he added.
Pet lovers will not want to miss Santa, who will be posing at for pictures with pets and giving out personalized bones for the doggy set.
"We have Christmas toys, treats, everything a pet needs for a Merry Christmas and a Happy Chanukah," said co-owner Elaine Abramson.
Santa will also be at which is offering discounts on pictures printed on mugs, tee-shorts and hats.
Design destination is creating a Christmas speakeasy with live jazz music and cocktails and will showcase traditional Thai dancing. The will offer babysitting both nights – advance registration is required.
Christina Cheng, the owner and designer behind the eponymous handbag and accessories boutique, plans to dispense bow-tie tying instruction for the sartorially challenged along with a complimentary glass of wine. "Ninety-nine percent of gentlemen don't know how to do it," Cheng pointed out.
is also courting local fashionistas with prosecco and cheese as well as hands-on buying advice that owner Cheryl Feld says online shopping can't replicate.
"We offer great customer service and advice," Feld said. "It's the personal touch. We help you think outside of your comfort zone and suggest things you might not try otherwise."
"I think it's a great idea and I like that they are making it into such a nice, family event," said Port resident Sue Hershkowitz, who plans to take her three children, ages three through nine, shopping for gifts for their grandmother.
"I think it's great that there are enough people who care about our community that they are willing to think creatively about ways to improve the town," Hershkowitz added.
Port Night Out is the group effort of community and business organizations Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, the and the and is supported by the Town of North Hempstead. For a complete list of participating retailers and their incentives, visit pwcalendar.com/portnightout.html.