It was quite the busy weekend. My mom and I finished up the Best Kept Secrets Tour on Saturday. In that pouring, cold, rain. Lots of puddles and umbrellas and soggy shopping bags. It made it more adventurous!
So. The Tour. My mom first heard about it maybe 2 years ago from a friend. It’s a lot of word-of-mouth news about this! Which, to me, makes it even more fun. Stores and small businesses in one county (we did Berks) all are included as a tour stop. You purchase a tour bag from certain shops. They are all marked with signs. The bags are filled with a tour booklet and some kind of flyer/business card/trinket from every store. I think it’s exciting even just searching through my bag when I get it! There’s usually free samples, pens, and tons of coupons. The Tour book is pretty informative. You know the dates of the tour – this is when the shops cater to us on the tour-and all the shop hours. There is a map and distance of each stop to the next stop. Even suggested routes are included.
We usually make a day of it two or three times throughout the tour because it’s much easier to start at one store in the morning and keep driving around and hit a bunch at one time. We’ve run into super friendly workers and always get treats and things for visiting their stores. Almost every stop has special discounts for “tour goers” through the dates. It is run twice a year but this is my favorite because all these unique little shops have coupons so it’s even more affordable for Christmas gifts!
I guess I should mention that the entire point is get shoppers in to small businesses that most people don’t realize are right in their backyard. We’ve discovered so many places through this and most are spots we’ve driven by for years! I stole this from the website to explain all the types on the tour because they say it best!
“home, garden & gift stores housed in historic homes, restored barns, warehouses and even a hardware store, an alpaca farm where you can interact with the animals, art & artisan galleries, tucked away nurseries & garden centers, a pretzel bakery, gourmet foods & sweet shops with yummy treats for sampling, clothing, jewelry & accessories boutiques, amazing handmade crafts, a local favorite restaurant & a brand new cafe, furniture, antiques, vintage, upcycled & consignment shops, a gorgeous winery on an historic site, a few specialty shops and more!!”
It’s just a fun time driving around (but not that far) and feeling like we’re on a scavenger hunt.
I forgot to mention the best part! Each place you go to has a ticket for you to fill out that gets entered in a drawing for a present or gift card. I won the West Reading prize last year and won $600 worth of gift certificates! My mom also won a jewelry prize! We’re lucky. I’m sure our prizes are in the works already.
I bought this plaid wool hat I”m wearing from Killarney, Ireland from my favorite new shop we found, Evelyn and Harriets! They have items from all over the world and only sell things that are unique and not found many other places. Ornaments from Egypt, hand-made greetings cards from Germany, children’s toys that do not have any kind of electronics or batteries! It’s very cool.
While we were hitting some stores this week we stopped for seafood. I had delicious sushi…that I ate with a knife and fork because I didn’t feel like dropping 10x the amount of rice on my lap than I did already! It was great. There was an amazing drizzle on top that I can’t remember!This. This is why I brave the crowds and go to Wal-Mart occasionally. $3 turkey hair clips are a must-buy. And…tiny bragging but the official Hello Dolly Broadway instagram used my picture! I was pretty excited about that. I’m famous! hah!I went thrift shopping for the first time in months and hit a pocket of excellence. Including the above pictured Free People dress. My haul also includes a sequin skirt, and a fabulous vintage sweater that I’m sure one of the Golden Girls wore. (Newsflash: That means I love it.)
I was sent some coffee shots to try and they really are decent. I can’t believe their natural energy drinks! That never happens. I’m not a big energy drink gal but this was fun to drink. I could see adding it to a cup of coffee…wait, does that defeat the purpose?