Thanksgiving weekend is both an opportunity and a challenge for the independent retailer.  We’ve already seen a lot of press in our area about the shopping malls vowing to remain closed on Thanksgiving, which makes me a bit jealous.  We’ve never been open on Thanksgiving — and I don’t think any other shop on Monroe Street has either — and yet we didn’t think to send out press releases announcing the fact.  Maybe it’s not too late for you to do that.

The day after Thanksgiving is of course now known as Black Friday.  According to a recent article in the AARP magazine, nearly 74 million people shopped that day last year.  Sales are of course the biggest draw, with half the shoppers studying ad circulars before heading out, but the good news is that 31 percent say they shopped because it was a family tradition.

It’s hard for an independent retailer to compete with some of the highly discounted prices offered on Black Friday, but we definitely can offer a shopping experience that is an enjoyable part of the holiday weekend tradition.  A relaxed atmosphere and perhaps even refreshments are a nice alternative to the frenzy of a big box store.

A number of our vendors are offering Black Friday specials to their specialty shop customers that are not available to larger stores.  We appreciate the fact that this gives us something to promote to help draw in the sale shoppers.  Now would be a good time to check with your sales reps about whether there are specials available to you.

The article in AARP goes on to say that millions more shoppers were out the Saturday (and Sunday) after Thanksgiving, and as an independent shop we are fortunate to be able to take advantage of the national publicity surrounding Small Business Saturday.  Even without the statement credit that American Express generously offered the first few years of this event, there is a high level of consumer recognition and involvement.

According to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights survey, over 95 million consumers shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday in 2015, resulting in a total spending among U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday of over $16 billion.

In addition to promoting the concept of Small Business Saturday nationally, the sponsors offer countless ideas for special events to create excitement on that day. If you haven’t already signed on, check out the Small Business Saturday “Shop Small” Studio for resources to help you make the most of of this busy shopping weekend.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder 

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