By Madelyn Scroggie
The Mason Times
Mason, Mich. – The customers of The Maple Street Mall were welcomed by a chocolate buffet compliments of the mall on Feb. 19-21 at their 8th annual Chocolate Extravaganza event.
The Maple Street Mall, located on the courthouse square in downtown Mason
, is home to over 55 vendors of unique antiques, collectibles, hand-crafted goods and re-purposed specialty items.
“This business was opened in 2008 to give other small business owners an opportunity to have space while we take care of a lot of the major overhead items,” said Hedemark. “The vendors lease space and come in and do floor work to sell their product.”
The Chocolate Extravaganza event was created by mall manager Debbie Hedemark in order to keep her customers happy and to stray away from the frame of mind that major big box retailers have.
“I have an issue with major big box retailers doing sale after sale after sale and I refuse to succumb to that mentality,” said Hedemark. “So we like to do free food and just kind of play hostess for customers and give them a little something, as opposed to just running a sale to get people in here.”
Hedemark said the event has been a major success over the past eight years and allowed her to keep her customers satisfied.
“It really seems to have worked well,” said Hedemark, “and it’s really appreciated by the customers. So then, when we do run a sale it’s a big deal.”
The mall not only attracts locals but people from all over Ingham County who are in search of antique shopping.
“We aren’t frequent shoppers here,” said shopper Dianne Hamman while with friends. “We are from Eaton Rapids, Niles, and Kalamazoo, having a girls weekend and all decided to come here to antique shop.”
Shopper Deb Haghshenas said she heard about The Chocolate Extravaganza from another antique store down the road.
“We had planned on coming here but had no idea this was the place with all the chocolate. We kind of struck it rich,” said Haghshenas.
The Chocolate Extravaganza created a wave of business for the mall over the past weekend due to the unexpected warm weather.
“We have been extremely busy because of this event,” said Hedemark. “Because of the weather, because of the sale, and because of cabin fever days, it was kind of the perfect storm.”
Due to the turnout that the event has brought to the mall, Hedemark has started other food incentive events to keep her customers and vendors happy.
“We also do a chili cook-off, a soup cook-off, a cookie extravaganza, a cake walk, and a bunch of other little different events throughout the course of the school year.”