Visit Mercer Co.’s “Candy Cane Trail” returning, nearly doubling last year’s stops

The second year of this small business scavenger hunt has seen an increase in the number of businesses participating.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 10:47 PM EST
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MERCER COUNTY, W. Va. (WVVA) -Does the idea of a scavenger hunt with bargains to be found, and prizes to be won along the way appeal to you? It’s all part of the Candy Cane Trail in Mercer County. It’s a free GPS-based scavenger hunt in the same vein as the popular game Pokémon Go. Instead of characters, people on the Trail are encouraged to seek out local businesses, go to Christmas events, and “check-in” on your phone. Every three stops enters you to win some sweet prizes. It’s an extension of the specials that launch the holiday shopping season.

“Small Business Saturday we love. It’s great, but it’s only one day. So, the Candy Cane Trail extends the idea of shopping local and supporting our friends and family, but it’s also fun...” says Jamie Null, Executive director of Visit Mercer County:

And the fun extends beyond the first three days after thanksgiving, reaching all the way to January 8th. It brings lots of people out to participate. More than 1,000 people explored the treasures along the Candy Cane Trail last year. There’s no doubt in the minds of local merchants it provided a measurable uptick in their foot traffic like the Corner Shop Diner in Bramwell. Mandy Fink, the manager in this historic ice cream shop says it’s why they signed up as a stop on the trail for a second year.

“They have... a checkpoint of places that they’re going to stop, and they had never been here before. Some of them even local; didn’t even know we existed until they had followed that Trail, so that was exciting as well,” says Fink.

The Corner Shop isn’t alone. Last year’s success with connecting new customers with local businesses has lead to even more stops on the Trail this year than there were last year. Those numbers have nearly doubled. One of the new businesses participating (which is also contributing some of the prizes) is CSC’s Candle Bakery, seller of the incredible-but-inedible dessert candle. Matthew Orlicki, co-owner and founder of CSC’s Candle Bakery, says they’re looking forward to the boost in business considering the nature of their product.

“We feel like our gifts are something really unique, and they make perfect... Christmas presents. Everybody absolutely loves them...” says Orlicki, “...The holiday season, you know, we’re especially busy and... we’re really excited and just really grateful for the community too.”

Null says the Candy Cane Trail is a great way to support the many businesses in our region, but more than that, it’s a fun way to explore a lot of stores. The 2023 Candy Cane Trail shines holiday lights on the growing diversity of the business landscape in this community.

Some of the businesses will have extra incentives like coupons as part of the trail. The Corner Shop Diner will have 40% off a waffle cone. CSC’s Candle Bakery will enter you in for a chance to win a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and a five hundred dollar gift voucher. If you would like to participate in the Candy Cane Trail, it will start on Thanksgiving Day and run through January 8th. You can sign up to participate in the Candy Cane Trail on the Visit Mercer County website.