Hello All, Vivienne here to share with you the fun we had on the First Annual PEDVAC Shopping Tour. PEDVAC, a non-profit social agency is always looking for new and fun ways to raise funds for the very important work and social support needed in our region, thus the shopping bus tour was born. To learn more please see “All about PEDVAC” and “What’s Happening”.
28 shoppers from Sydney and Amherst, NS, Port Elgin, Sackville and Moncton, NB, boarded the bus at 6:00 a.m. and with our strong Canadian dollar, it was the perfect time for some cross-border shopping; and shop we did! Bargains were so plentiful that a couple of us even went over the $800 limit for duty free.
There was lots of room on the bus which was just over half full. Once we were en route to the CANADA/USA border I took the opportunity to tell our shoppers a little bit about PEDVAC and to thank them for their support by joining this tour. On board were some of our board members, including myself, former board members and staff, many of whom sell tickets to our annual Dream Vacation Raffle. A very big thank you to all the shoppers and Bert, our bus driver who bought tickets. Good luck to you all and I sure hope one of you wins first prize!
We learned to make sure we were all aboard with everyone calling out their number after each stop. Next year we’ll definitely have name tags; at least while on the bus so that I can have at least some hope of remembering everyone’s name 🙂
We made stops at Duty Free on the way out at St. Stephen’s NB and on the way back at Houlton, ME and found great deals there too. Both shops managed our group smoothly and we got back on the bus on time to keep to our schedule. The border crossing could have been more pleasant at Calais, ME so we chose to return instead via Woodstock, NB on the return.
Friday was a full day after the long drive with lunch at Dysart’s Truck Stop & Restaurant in Bangor, Maine where the food was delicious and the service excellent. On we rolled until the quick check in to the hotel then off to Burlington Coat Factory in South Portland, ME, which as the name may imply is not just a coat factory, but in fact is a clothing, accessories for the whole family and home decor department store. The Maine Mall was our next shopping and dining experience. As you see by their Web site, this is a huge mall with premier shopping, dining and entertainment in Portland, Maine with wonderful little boutiques, mall kiosks, food court, JC Penney, Sears, Best Buy, Macy’s and The Sports Authority among many other top stores, shops and brands. Back at the hotel we had tons of bags and confusion as we unloaded the bus. Next year we’ll have large bags with our names on them in the luggage hold.
On Saturday and Sunday we rose early for the long days of shopping and dining. The Howard Johnson’s Hotel had an indoor pool, a restaurant and bar, The Season’s Grille which was fine and we were all quite satisfied with our rooms. Some of our ladies opted not to shop at some points, but to dine in instead and even enjoying a karaoke night in the bar/restaurant.
The North Conway, NH Settlers’ Green Outlet Village with TAX FREE SHOPPING at over 60 factory outlet stores was not to disappoint. We shopped for many hours, taking breaks to eat and have tea in the food court in between. Some ladies even made 3 to 4 trips to some stores, the bargains were that good! There was always one or two of us at the food kiosk where they served Red Rose tea drifting in for breaks and to share our finds.
The scenery going through Maine into New Hampshire was breathtaking with the White Mountains as a backdrop and mist rising over the lakes on either side of the 2-lane road and on through the little town of North Conway with rows of charming little shops. On the way back an unscheduled but very pleasant detour was made to the Christmas Loft a true Christmas wonderland shop with magical charm, decor and every kind of ornament you could imagine to decorate the tree and home. Also on the return we went to a scenic lookout point to take this great photo of the group at the foot of the White Mountains.
This day ended with some going to Kohl’s Department Store across the street from the hotel, some staying in and a very few going to Target. Next year we definitely will include Kohl’s and omit Target.
On the way home Sunday we took in the Christmas Tree Shop. The description given to me was that “it’s like a dollar store but a thousand times better and that much more selection”, and it did not disappoint. Everything from nick knacks to kitchen gadgets, seasonal items for not only Christmas but Halloween and every other holiday in the year. This is certainly not just a Christmas Store.
Lunch at the Happy China Buffet in Bangor, Maine was fast, efficient, and delicious and we were given a group rate for a buffet that was the largest one I’ve ever seen in 12 years of working in the travel industry. The custom stir fry where you pick your own raw ingredients was also included in the buffet price for a tip in the jar at the grill. We had 2 hours here but could have been in and out in one to take in the Joanne Fabrics store across the street for all our crafters on the tour.
By all accounts this fund raising bus trip was a resounding success. The pace was hectic, the scenery beautiful, the bargains plentiful, the bus driver was helpful and funny, and best of all we had a great group of 28 ladies who made my job as tour escort easy and fun. We already have our tour dates tentatively pencilled in for next year 2013, most of our ladies who went this year have already said they’ll go again next year and some even have additional friends and family committed to join us.
Put your email and name in the “Get Updates To What’s Happening At PEDVAC By Email Each Time We Post” form in the sidebar to subscribe for updates so that when Val posts the confirmed dates and itinerary for next year’s tour, you will get an email notice.
Until next year, save up your pennies and come have some fun for a good cause.
Wishing you all a blessed and safe Christmas Season,