Deer hunters in the North are gearing up for the firearm deer season opener. Their wives, or ‘deer widows,’ have their own plans.
In an effort to market to women looking for something to do while men are hunting, shopping malls, outlets centers, casinos and entertainment complexes are offering special promotions and events.
“Deer Widows Weekend” was first introduced 20 years ago at a Simon Property Group owned outlet near Detroit.
This year, thirteen outlet malls around the country owned by Simon Property Group are running “deer widows weekend” promotions.
“That’s more than double the number of centers that offered the promotion last year,” said Les Morris, director of public relations for Simon.
With some retail stores reporting higher traffic during “deer widows weekend” than on Black Friday, other businesses are following suit.
Minnesota’s largest casino, Mystic Lake, is offering a pop-up indoor market, local bands, free games, cash drawings including a $1,000 Mall of America shopping spree and a sold-out concert by heartthrob Rick Springfield.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, even though more women are participating in hunting and fishing than ever before, they still only account for roughly 15 percent of deer hunting licenses sold each year.
When the men flock to the woods, “deer widows” are looking for a way to have a little fun of their own.
“It’s definitely a party,” said Sara Smith, director of marketing at the Albertville outlet mall. “Ladies wait in line in the early morning with sleeping bags and lawn chairs. Some wear camouflage and some wear black veils to get in the spirit.”
The women of previous generations typically just got together at each other’s homes to celebrate a weekend away from their husbands. But, with more disposable income “deer widows” are going out.
To entice “deer widows” to make the most of the weekend, many hotels and casinos are offering packages that include discounted room rates combined with discounts at other local retailers.
“With the hotel, dining, gaming and vendors, they’re giving women an excuse to get together with friends,” said Marshal Cohen, a retail analyst with NPD Group. “Casinos are blatantly saying, ‘We want you and every friend you have.’ ”
So, if you’re out and about this weekend (Nov. 14-16) be on the lookout. “Deer widows” will on the loose.