This Friday has been termed “Black Friday” by the media, because of the idea that this one day’s sales are so important that they put major retailers in the black.  That doesn’t tend to be true for independent retailers, who miss out on the feeding frenzy of shoppers flocking to the malls and big box stores the day after Thanksgiving. (And if this was the day that made us suddenly profitable, I like to think we’d be creative enough to come up with a more cheerful name.)

Statistics show that a staggering 1/3 of all shoppers will visit Wal-mart this Friday, and another 1/5 will visit Sears, Target or J C Penney’s — for a total of 150 million people. And according to Lee Eisenberg in Shoptimism, a retail study shows that “over 80 percent of Black Friday shoppers say they are battling the crowds on behalf of themselves.”

This is useful information for those of us who are trying to attract the 2/3 of all American shoppers who will not be going to Wal-Mart on Friday.  Our shoppers may also be looking for something special for themselves, and they know that their chances of finding a unique line or locally-made product are much greater in a specialty shop.

The shoppers who come to our stores this weekend know that there is more to the shopping experience than low price, although we do try to compete as best we can in that arena as well.   But they probably realize that “self-service” really means “no service.”  We are geared up to provide personalized service to our customers during the holidays to make their shopping experience truly enjoyable.

Because if shoppers are really shopping primarily for themselves, in addition to looking ahead to holiday gifts, why wouldn’t they want to treat themselves to a Thanksgiving weekend that is as celebratory as Thursday’s turkey?  Many of our customers have out-of-town guests who enjoy shopping as a traditional part of their visit.  (Our Thanksgiving traditions revolve around my husband and business partner Dean roasting the turkey, and then all of us going over the store after dinner to set up holiday displays.)

But before we sit down to turkey on Thanksgiving, I plan to give thanks that we have a loyal following of customers who are willing to spend their hard-earned dollars at our locally owned store, buying quality products carefully chosen to enrich their lives.  I hope that you are planning to provide your customers with a shopping experience this weekend that far surpasses battling the crowds at Wal-Mart at dawn.  And may it put you in the black…..

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder