Meadvillians brave cold for First Friday Cookie Walk

Few things are powerful enough to draw people out of their warm homes and into the cold and snow on a dark winter evening. Cookies are one of those things, and Meadville business owners know it.

Cookies of every variety drew over 300 Meadville residents and Allegheny students to the Meadville Market House on Friday, Feb. 3. The annual First Friday Cookie Walk was hosted by the Meadville Independent Business Alliance, whose goal is to “organize fun and family-friendly shop-local events,” according to

Beginning at the Market House, participants could grab a cookie-collecting box along with a map to participating businesses along Market Street, Chestnut Street and Park Avenue. Business owners left their doors open from 5-8 p.m., handing out cookies and making conversation with locals.

Leslie Flint, owner of Indigo Boutique and Botanica, is one business owner who appreciates that the Cookie Walk brings people to Meadville’s downtown shops at a time when business might otherwise be slow.

“It’s a really great way to bridge the gap from the holiday season to the spring, where things start to liven back up,” Flint said.

While the event may drum up business around town, its mission is to bring the community closer to local businesses, not increase sales.

For Flint, it means “(welcoming) people into the space, and not putting any expectation on shopping; just (having) a good time.”

Participants could pick up thumbprint cookies and chai cookies at Indigo’s Boutique and adjacent Apothecary. Just around the corner, Heather Fish, ’15, of Hatch Hollow handed out biscochitos alongside Stabile Arbor and Tree Care’s lemon crinkle cookies and the City of Meadville’s no-bakes in the art shop’s gallery and co-working space.

This year was not Fish’s first with the cookie walk, but still she was impressed with the turnout.

“We do this every February,” Fish said. “It’s always kind of rough outside, but people show up every year.”

The event, to her, is a way to give back to the community in a unique way.

“It’s just a thank-you to customers; it’s dark and cold outside, and this is a fun way to bring people downtown,” Fish said.

And thankful they were. Before the event was done, businesses along the cookie route hung signs in their windows telling customers that they were fresh-out of cookies.

Kerstin Ams, manager of Meadville’s Market House, said that participation was high from the start of the event, given the first-come, first-serve basis.

“We went through almost 200 boxes in less than an hour,” Ams said. It is no surprise, given that the line to pick up cookie boxes was out the door in the first several minutes of the event.

Participants like Meadville resident Hailey Schwab and her family were glad to get a box when they could.

“This is our first time doing (the Cookie Walk),” Schwab said. “It’s a little cold, but it’s really fun.”

As intended, the event led her to discover businesses in the local area that she may not have otherwise visited, like French Creek Framing and Fine Art.

For those who missed the Cookie Walk — not to worry. The Meadville Independent Business Alliance hosts events every “First Friday” of the month from 5-8 p.m.; no promises that they will be as sweet as this one, though.