OCHO RIOS, St. Ann — Merchants and shoppers in St Ann have given the thumbs up to Jamaica Observer's Celebration of Fashion's Night Out (FNO) on Thursday, as hundreds of shoppers flocked stores, especially in Ocho Rios.
There were also activities in Brown's Town, St Ann's Bay and Runaway Bay, although a little low-keyed, shoppers made good on the discounts available on a range of products and services.
Much of the activity in Ocho Rios started ahead of the scheduled 5:00 pm start with newcomers to FNO, Taj Mahal shopping complex transporting busloads of tourists from different resorts to that complex for them to make use of the huge bargains.
"It has been absolutely fantastic, we had tourists come by, we had lots of excitement, the plaza had complimentary drinks, people felt a little buzz while shopping today (Thursday) so I was really happy, " proprietor of one of several participating stores in Taj Mahal, Avi Doshi at Profumo, told the Jamaica Observer.
"I'm totally loving the vibe here, it's just wonderful. I'm drinking Grey Goose, earlier I had champagne, and I'm eating nuts. It's just good and I'm glad the Indians are participating in Fashion's Night Out," said a shopper inside Colors Duty-Free at Taj Mahal, who identified herself only as Ann-Marie.
Shoppers in Ocho Rios also crowded many stores along Main Street, Ocean Village shopping centre, Little Pub Plaza, Island Plaza, Simmonds Plaza, James Avenue, Newlin and Evelyn Street, DaCosta Drive and Beecham Plaza.
Crowd control had to be implemented at some businessplaces like Joseph's and Maxie Department Store, which throughout the night saw huge flow of customers and long lines to the cashiers.
Branch manager at Maxie Department Store, Errol Blake, explained that with the huge crowds from last year, certain measures were put in place to reduce this year's expected heavy traffic. However, he said the crowd was much bigger than he anticipated.
"We started ours from in the morning, trying to get rid of some of the crowd, but it didn't work this time around, but it has been great," Blake said customers benefitted from 25 per cent discount as well as marked down prices as low as $399.
Another Ocho Rios merchant, Dania White, of Wow Factor, said FNO was extremely hectic, but in a very good way.
"It's a lot of people, it's really more than it was last year," White said, adding that she was comfortable with her sales, as she pointed out that a number of her items, including clothing and accessories, were in high demand.
In Brown's Town, branch manager at Sinclair's Bargain Centre, Carmen Marsh, was pleased with the huge turnout and she explained that the shopping momentum throughout the night was good.
"It's very busy, we giving 20 per cent off all items except furniture, and this is how it has been since 5:00 pm, busy, and the pace hasn't slowed much," Marsh told the Observer.
Another Brown's Town merchant, Debbie-Ann Fraser, of Right Value said considering the economic situation her store did well and she had big praises for the team at the Observer.
"I did well, thanks for Fashion's Night Out; I must say big up to the Observer," Fraser said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Patricia Pinnock of Lifestyle Boutique at Runaway Bay, who said she was very pleased with the way FNO went for her.
"I brought my entire store outside, I spent money and fixed up my place and I made money; you have to spend money to make money," she said. "Fashion's Night Out is good for me every year, I make money every year," Pinnock said. She added that she went all out to ensure that people would be attracted to her location along the small north coast town.
In St Ann's Bay, FNO was not as sizzling, but merchants and shoppers alike said they were pleased. Carlene Lynch of Dazzle Boutique said while there was no huge crowd, she enjoyed a steady stream of shoppers.
"It was good for me, the people turned out, it wasn't very busy, but it was steady," she added.
Janet Hardie of Cabotine Decres, also in St Ann's Bay, said this year's FNO was much better than last year. She explained that while nothing happened for her store last year, Thursday was a big improvement.
"It wasn't bad, I'm grateful, this time of year business is usually slow and I did make a few sales so I'm grateful," she said.
Several shoppers too, with whom the Observer spoke, said they were pleased with the event and the discounts offered.
"I got some really good items, some of the prices were not very attractive, but then you had some ridiculously low prices and I was able to get a few items, so it was okay," shopper Antoinette Murphy said.