OLCOTT – The quaint and colorful Lakeview Village Shoppes will throw open the doors next weekend to officially kick off the tourist season along this Lake Ontario boardwalk.
Having enjoyed what the regulars described as their finest season ever last year, shop owners have been busy sprucing up their small, eclectic spots in order to open from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, where Route 78 meets Lake Ontario.
“People are really excited about this year,” said Sue Neidlinger, a Newfane Town Board member who serves as the town’s liaison to the shops. “The shop owners have instituted a lot of changes and have put together a whole list of special events. It’s going to be an awesome year. Everyone who had a shop here last year is coming back, and I now have a waiting list of people who want to have shops here.”
Neidlinger mentioned the great variety of goods offered by the 11 shop owners, who have rented the entire 18 sites – some taking up double shops.
“We have art, jewelry, jams and jellies, souvenirs, memorabilia, repurposed clothing, antiques, bohemian clothes, ice cream and chocolates as well as a food shop with sandwiches, salads and wraps,” she noted.
Kristin Teeter owns two shops – KM Eats, which offers everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to some new vegetarian options, and KM Treats, which features candy.
This is her fourth year for KM Eats and she has expanded the menu this year with the help of her brother, Ron Ferington, who is the chef, to also include salads and occasional seafood dishes. While she has maintained an order window, she has installed a new pick-up window, to help facilitate the flow of foot traffic on the boardwalk, she said.
This is only her second year for KM Treats, and she has closed her other shop on Main Street in Lockport to focus her attention on the lakefront shops.
“It’s amazing to see the diversity in the (customers) here,” she said. “We’ve had people from Russia, Spain, Australia … We just had a lady stop by from England whose niece was getting married and she had been at Fort Niagara and stumbled upon us here while we were working to get the shop ready.
“It feels like you’re on vacation when you’re down here,” she added. “It’s very relaxing and totally laid back. The people coming in want to browse and look at the water. It’s amazing how many people have never seen the lake and we take it for granted here. But the sunsets are fantastic and there’s nothing better than watching the fireworks over the lake.”
Residents and visitors alike will have even more opportunities to watch fireworks over Lake Ontario this year, as an anonymous Olcott family has donated fireworks for five additional shows throughout the summer. The Town of Newfane and Olcott Beach Community Association sponsor fireworks July 3. The anonymous donation means fireworks will be added July 10 and 23; Aug. 13 and 27; and Sept. 6.
Margaret Brant opened her shop, Up the Lake, for the first time at Lakeview last year, and was so successful – and had so much fun – she is opening again this season.
“I do decorative painting,” said Brant, who used to have a teaching/artist studio in Newfane. “I paint cupboards, pictures – all types of surfaces. And I use acrylic, oil, watercolor and pen and ink.”
Like Teeter, Brant, who operates her shop with help from her longtime friend, Ruthy Warda, also marveled at the people they met at the shop last year from all corners of the world.
“They came from China, Japan, Russia – I said, ‘How did you find us?’ ” she said. “A lot of them are just traveling through New York State.”
Brant is coordinating two new boardwalk events this season – wine tastings and a farmers market – both to be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.
Chateau Niagara Winery, Schulze Vineyards and Winery, Victorianbourg Wine Estate, The Winery at Marjim Manor, Black Willow Winery and Midnight Run Wine Cellars will take turns participating, Brant said.
“They will each have a representative here and will offer free tastings and will sell their wine,” she said.
In addition, she is still accepting vendors for the farmer’s market, which currently will have offerings from Blackman Farms, Teacup and Tidbits (goat milk products), Joe’s organic produce and garlic and KMT gardening. She can be reached at 345-1230.
Brant said she and her husband, David, have been busy sprucing up her shop for the past few weeks and have built a small cart with an umbrella for the new wine tastings.
“I think it’ll work out real nice,” she said.
The Town of Newfane opened the shops nearly 25 years ago in an effort to boost tourism. The project suffered ups and downs through the years, most notably empty shops and spotty scheduling. But those challenges seem to have been resolved.
Shop owners pay the town monthly rent, which is used to help pay utilities and make repairs, Neidlinger said.
“The shops were really only built to last five to 10 years, but the town kept them going,” she said. “We’ve done roof repairs, window repairs and some structural replacement. And the shop owners have risen to the occasion in sprucing them up. If it wasn’t in our budget to do something, they have gotten a group together to do it. We all seem to be on the same page now, working together. I have totally enjoyed working with these shop owners – they’re all great.”
The Lakeview Village Shoppes will be open noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday in May, September and October; and from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from noon to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.
Special events this year include: free flowers for mothers on Mother’s Day (May 10); a spin the wheel feature for discounts May 23-25; the first annual Mermaid Parade June 20, with prizes awarded; $1 hot dogs and free plants for dads on Father’s Day (June 21); Pet Appreciation Day on June 27; a coloring contest on Aug. 8; face painting on Aug. 15; and trick or treating on Oct. 31.
For more information, visit Lakeview Village Shoppes’ Facebook page or www.olcott-newfane.com.