FARMINGTON — More than 200 women of all ages got in some holiday shopping and primping during Saturday’s Ladies’ Day Out event.

They braved below-freezing temperatures as they stood in lines or went store to store armed with discount guides from participating downtown businesses.

The first 200 women received zebra-patterned tote bags that contained specials, coupons and gifts.

The event began at 9:30 a.m. at the Calico Patch, where the bags were handed out by co-owner Emily Hartung and employee Martha Bond. The bags went quickly.

“Fifteen minutes! I think that’s a record!” Hartung said afterward. “The crowd is fabulous. They’re full of excitement and they’re ready to shop. It really was wall-to-wall women. It was incredible!”

Last year’s event drew 150 women who received the special tote bags. So this year, Hartung said, they added 50 more bags, figuring there’d be at least 50 more women. Once the bags were gone, she gave out water bottles donated by TD Bank.

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“I think next year we’re going to have to go to 500 bags,” Hartung said. “This is great and this is only the third year it’s been done, so hopefully next year we can generate a wider base for customers.”

Women could register their gift preferences at various businesses for a new event this year, Men’s Night, to be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21. Both events are sponsored by the Farmington Downtown Association.

Along with the provided gift suggestion, free gift-wrapping, beer and food-tasting will be provided for male shoppers who attend Men’s Night.

“It makes Christmas shopping super easy and we’re happy to help,” Hartung said.

First-in-line friends Wendi Smith and Nancy Ellis, both of Farmington, and Belinda Maillet-Barden of Temple, got an early start on the day with breakfast at 8 a.m. Forty-five minutes later, they started the line. It was Smith’s second annual Ladies’ Day Out and the first for Ellis and Maillet-Barden.

“It’s a good day to get out with your girlfriends,” Smith said inside Richards’ Florist to sample fudge and check out the discounts. It was their sixth shopping stop of the event.

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“I like the idea of hanging out with everyone,” Maillet-Barden said.

“We’ve been going around to a lot of the shops and checking out a lot of the deals,” Smith said. “Great company, great friends, so how could it be anything but good?”

They said they were going to return to the Calico Patch to shop once the crowd thinned out.

“That store was packed before we got out of there,” Ellis said.

“We’re going back. We just couldn’t look around because there were so many people,” Smith said.

Linda Barton, owner of Richards’ Florist, gave out samples of peanut butter and chocolate walnut fudge made by Haven’s Candies in Westbrook. She sells both and three other varieties of their handmade fudge, plus Haven’s gourmet chocolate and hand-rolled candy canes.

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Just down the street at Liquid Sunshine, manager Nova Wagg said that store also was full of Ladies’ Day Out shoppers.

“We’ve been crowded with beautiful women and we’re having fun with 20 percent off and random door prizes,” Wagg said.

The event is designed to get shoppers into the downtown businesses before Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Wagg said she’d “seen a lot of new faces, which is very cool.”

At the United Way for the Tri-Valley Area on Broadway, Kathy Gregory and her mother, Karen Corbin, both of Chesterville, were decorating snowflake ornaments with buttons of different colors and sizes.

Gregory said the cold wasn’t a detraction from participating in Ladies’ Day Out.

“The idea is to be in the store spending money,” she said. “If you’re outside getting cold, you’re not doing it right.”

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