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Something for Everyone at Collingswood Second Saturday

From seasonal wine and cheese tastings to the search for the ugliest Christmas sweater, Collingswood visitors flocked to Second Saturday for a fun night out.

Shoppers, strollers and date-night diners who braved the chilly night air were rewarded with deals, treats and free live entertainment at Collingswood Second Saturday.

For Kenny and Gina Horlacher of , the monthly event often provides a welcome business boost, even during the extended-hours holiday shopping season.

“It’s people who find us because they don’t get out during the week,” said Gina Horlacher.

Visitors to Cheese Etc. on Second Saturday were treated to complimentary samples of Gina’s new homemade wine-infused cheese spreads, like the creamy berry grigio, and the beer-based dubbel ale spread.

Next door at , entrepreneur Betsy Clark debuted selections from her upcoming spring 2012 fashion line, which she retails under the brand National Picnic. Clark, who described the response to her new garments as “wonderful,” said she was especially excited because she’d found a South Jersey-based manufacturer for the new line.

“Second Saturday launched my business a year ago,” Clark said. “My first show was at to see if people would respond. [When they did,] that’s how I knew I could proceed.”

Up the street, Morgan Robinson of described her customers’ tastes as trending more ironic than chic. Shoppers had cleaned out the bulk of her sweater inventory in search of a winner for their Ugliest Christmas Sweater parties.

“The snowmen, the jingle bells, the reindeer,” Robinson said, describing the over-the-top patterns and accessories shoppers look for. “I’m going to have to go to another thrift store and buy them half off, if I can find them.”

At , owner Brad Bricker said that his customers consistently visit in search of one toy brand more than any other.

“Star Wars,” Bricker said. “Always Star Wars. It still amazes me.”

Even so, Bricker dedicated half his storefront window to a colorful tableau of DC Comics action figures having a Christmas party at Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

The biggest bash of the night, however, was to be found at , where the Tommie Griggz Band packed the small storefront. Freelance illustrator Laura Guzzo, whose paintings were on display at the event, said that the crowd the band brought in was great for business.

“It was body-to-body in here,” she said.

A similar scene could be found at , where shoppers were treated to generous amounts of free samples. Even after a big dinner at , a quartet of Washington Township residents noshed happily on the homemade chocolates.

“It’s a lot better than Washington Township,” said Scott Sommermann. “You can’t get good food there.”

“You don’t get this downtown atmosphere,” added his friend Mike McCloskey.

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