UNIVERSITY PARK -- As the grand opening for the Mall at University Town Center approaches, some stores are beginning to roll out invitations to exclusive events before the mall's Oct. 16 launch.
Macy's is planning a charity shopping event from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 11.
Customers who purchase a $5 ticket will receive a special discount storewide, said Macy's spokeswoman Melissa Goff. Additionally, guests will enjoy entertainment, food and drink and a chance to win a $500 gift card.
Proceeds from the sale of tickets will benefit 30 Manatee and Sarasota county charities, including Brides Against Breast Cancer, Cat Depot, Lakewood Ranch Women's Club and Myakka City Foundation.
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Francine Diemer, development and communications manager for Habitat for Humanity Sarasota, a participating charity, said she hopes to have all of the organization's 1,300 volunteers attend the event and spread the word.
"If we could make at least $1,000, that would be terrific," Diemer said, noting the money will go toward the Habitat's fund to build homes in Sarasota.
Saks Fifth Avenue, another major anchor at the new mall, will host the local edition of its annual cancer charity event, Key to the Cure, from 5:30-9 p.m., Oct. 14.
Two percent of all sales at the local event that night and from Oct. 16-19 after the mall opens will benefit Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Shoppers will be treated to
food and drink. Tickets are $100 per person.
A celebrity will design a Key to the Cure T-shirt that will be on sale for $35. Last year's celebrity was Jennifer Aniston, but this year's pick is still a secret. Sarasota Memorial Hospital will collect all proceeds from T-shirt sales.
Sally Schule, marketing director of the Saks at Sarasota's Westfield Southgate Mall, said she expects a larger turnout than in the past since the charity event will serve as the first opportunity to get a glimpse of the new Saks.
Key to the Cure drew 700 attendees last year in Sarasota; this year Schule expects more than 1,000.
For more information, visit smhf.org or call 941- 917-1286.