The idea came to Susan Longmire in the middle of the night.
Unable to sleep most nights, Longmire uses the idle time to brainstorm ideas, thinking up ways to promote Mother’s and Daughter’s Antiques and Gifts, a shop in downtown Denham Springs she owns with her mother, Earlene Norwood, and sister, Janet Russell.
As she sat up late one night nearly a decade ago, she felt she had a pretty good idea, one that could attract shoppers to her family’s store along with the others lining up Antique Village.
After 10 years, that idea still holds up.
Despite severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings most of Friday, mothers and daughters of all ages flocked to the historic downtown Denham Springs area for “Girl’s Night Out,” a night when the men stay at home and women hit the town for some laughing, shopping and eating.
Nearly 350 women purchased tickets for the event, which gives participants a chance to shop around the Antique Village at discounted prices twice a year.
After the Great Flood of 2016 forced the cancellation of the last “Girl’s Night Out” in November, this year’s event went accordingly to plan, though the outlook appeared bleak earlier during a stormy day.
There was at least one confirmed tornado that touched down in Baton Rouge on Friday, and though it never reached Denham, a mighty thunderstorm did. It rained most of the morning and again later that afternoon, temporarily making Longmire, Norwood and Russell fear that their plans would once again be thwarted.
Much to the relief of the three Mother’s and Daughter’s owners, the night went as planned once the rain cleared out around 5 p.m.
But for some women such as Mandy Cureton, who’s been coming for five years, the rain wouldn’t have been enough to hold them back.
“I was prepared,” said Cureton, motioning to the boots she had put on just in case.
Eager shoppers trickled into the Mother’s and Daughter’s gift shop a little before 6 p.m. and had to go through the side door to pick up their $30 ticket. After that, they received two gift bags with a quilt and necklace inside, a dinner provided by Taste of Louisiana Cafe and a ticket that listed all the Antique Village stores that were running discounts.
Normally, it’s a one-sided ticket, but this year Russell, Longmire and Norwood got the support of 13 other businesses — the most ever for the event — requiring a fully covered two-sided ticket this year.
The 350 tickets sold out within a month after going on sale, but Russell said that number falls way short of the demand.
“We could’ve sold 500 this year,” Russell said hours before the event began. “People are still calling everyday wanting tickets.”
There were no such phone calls six months ago, when the Great Flood of 2016 brought nearly two feet of water into the Mother’s and Daughter’s gift shop less than six months after moving into the new location at 215 N. Range Ave.
However, if the gift shop had remained in its original location just across the street, where it stood since 1995, the damage would’ve been much worse. Longmire said that building, now the Copper Hutch, took in 5-6 feet of water.
The historic flood last August forced the family to shut down Mother’s and Daughter’s for 65 days until reopening in late October, seemingly in time for the fall “Girls’ Night Out.”
But there would be no “Girls’ Night Out” that night: The flood destroyed everything meant to go to the ticket buyers and raffle winners, washing away thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts and prizes.
“Had to dump it all in the trash,” Norwood said.
On Friday, it was business as usual as nearly all who purchased a ticket showed up for their night on the town.
For Jessica McElwee, who came with her mother, sister, an in-law and family friend, missing out wasn’t an option.
“This is one of the highlights of the year for me,” McElwee said.
It appears McElwee shares that sentiment with many.
Longmire said the event has sold out every time since the first, when they sold 200 tickets with the aid of just five other businesses. The event has grown each year — as well as the ticket sales and partnering businesses.
The next “Girl’s Night Out” is scheduled for either the first or second Friday in November. Longmire, Russell and Norwood will announce the start of tickets sales about two months in advance, but they’ll be busy way before that.
“As soon as this one’s over, we have to find gifts for the next one six months from now,” Russell said.