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Ladies' Night Out a Big Success in Magnolia
By JEN BRADY
Banner-News of Magnolia

MAGNOLIA, Arkansas -- Feb. 7, 2006 -- Guests to the Banner-News' Ladies' Night Out praised the smoother operation of the 2006 event Tuesday night, Feb. 7.

Attendance was down slightly from the inaugural Ladies' Night Out, a women's expo organized by the newspaper and held at the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center at Southern Arkansas University. But visitors and vendors alike agreed that overall, things went much better.

The Banner-News staff registered 830 women for the grand prize drawing, won by Katrina Price of Magnolia. She will receive a "Spa City Getaway for Two " at the Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs. The package included a deluxe room for one night, complimentary breakfast, a thermal mineral water bath, hot packs, one 20-minute massage for each adult and two tickets to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower.

She said after she had been notified that she was excited about the trip and was taking her best friend.

Banner-News general manager Betty Chatham said the expanded hours made it so much more convenient for the ladies and vendors.

"We were very pleased with the turnout," Chatham said. "I want to thank all the ladies who came out, the vendors who participated and am looking forward to Ladies' Night Out 2007. I appreciate all the vendors and their creativity at making their booths stand out."

Evelyn Caldwell of Magnolia, left, gives Shawntel Lebouef registration information at the Mary Kay booth Tuesday night at Ladies' Night Out. The event was held at the Reynolds Center from 3 to 8 p.m.

About 250 ladies were on hand when the doors opened at 3 p.m. for the five-hour event. This year, the 34 vendor booths were divided by eight-foot high blue curtains. The refreshment area was moved out of the exhibit hall to an upstairs reception area where there was seating available.

Many ladies said on their way out that this year's Ladies' Night Out was much better than last.

"It was very enjoyable because we had more space to move around," Betty Smith said. "I think it's really a good idea having the refreshments somewhere else. The displays were really nice. I'm looking forward to seeing it continued every year."

Melanie Allen said the expanded time was great because the crowd was thinner. She said she found some gifts she needed as well.

"I think that it's nice it started early," Mille Awbrey said. "This way it won't be such a mad house tonight. Last year it was so crowded you couldn't move. You could hardly breathe last year."

Banner-News advertising manager Susan Gill said that everyone seemed pleased with the changes made this year to accommodate the crowd.

"It was a huge success, and we're looking forward to next year," Gill said.

Mary Wilson said the room was much better to go in this year, but the refreshment line was too crowded. By about 6 p.m., however, there were no lines in the refreshment area. "I think it's great, much better," Carla Preston, of McNeil, said. "I think the time is better. I think that it was real nice. The vendors seemed to be ready for us. I think they knew more what to expect."

Others were visiting the event for the first time.

Members of the Queen City Red Hatters from Camden said the event was well-organized and was a great outing for the Red Hatters.

"The cookies are incredible. The displays are great too," Carolyn Campbell, of Emerson, said. "The one thing that has really stood out to me, because we have been all over the country, is the ladies being as patient as they have been. I think it's fantastic."

One of the ideas of Ladies' Night Out is to promote local businesses and introduce new ones to the community.

Madelon Roberson, originally of Houston, said she's been in Magnolia for less than a year and LNO gave her an idea of what shops are in town.

Jennifer Hendrix, a licensed esthetician at Studio Salon, said this year was an opportunity to introduce herself. She said that next year, she'll be able to bring some of her lines of dermatological products. "It was easy to function in this year and visit with the customers," Jennifer Hubbard, owner of Jennifer's, said. "We had several people say they are going to come to the store."

Angela Lester, designer and owner of Cosmopolitan Ladies Club, said LNO was a good show for her and that it gave Cosmopolitan exposure to the community.

"It was a lot better than last year," Lana Pate, owner of House & Home said.

"It was more enjoyable and good publicity for us."

Major sponsors were Warnock Furniture, Southern Arkansas University, Peoples Bank, Nix Home Center, Murphy's Jewelers, Jennifer's, Ivan Smith Furniture and Farmers Bank and Trust. Farmers donated its booth space to the Magnolia Junior Charity League.

Visiting with merchants at the Reynolds Center Marcie Elliot tries on a bracelet Tuesday night at Ladies' Night Out with the help of Murphy's Jewelers' Melissa White.

Women enjoy second Ladies' Night Out Gail Adams gets a mini-makeover Tuesday night at Ladies' Night Out from Ashley Dixon of Serenity Day Spa. The women's expo was held at the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center.

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