We all want our businesses to operate in the black (i.e. to be profitable).  According to tradition, the Friday after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday because that is the day when most retailers’ bottom line went from red to black, thanks to the frenzied start of the holiday shopping season.  This turns out, however, not to be the actual origin of the term.  The History Channel says that it stems from the chaos that ensued in Philadelphia on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists (as well as shoplifters) flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game.

Today Black Friday is considered by many to be the busiest shopping day of the year, thanks to relentless promotion by both big box stores and online retailers like Amazon. The sales and deep discounts offered exclusively on that day provide motivation for shoppers to get out their wallets. But we have always found that our small shop can’t offer anything on Black Friday to compete with the excitement created by the big guys.

Enter Plaid Friday, an event created by Kerri Johnson of Oakland, California in 2009 to encourage consumers to spend an enjoyable day shopping for gifts for their friends and family. The name was chosen to reflect the concept of weaving individual threads of small businesses together to create a strong fabric. The next year American Express launched Small Business Saturday, and the two events work well together to spotlight the joys of shopping local.

The American Independent Business Alliance, known as AMIBA, encourages communities to promote Plaid Friday as part of their Shop Indie Local Campaign.  Wearing plaid and patronizing local stores are the key ways that consumers can participate. Some stores offer a discount to anyone wearing plaid, and post pictures of them on their social media.  Pulse Marketing has some good ideas for Plaid Friday, including offering a free gift to anyone wearing plaid.

You could also buy a few spools of 1/4” plaid ribbon and give out “awareness” lapel pins to everyone who shops that day. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #plaidfriday in your Instagram posts about your store or community’s participation – that will help this movement continue to grow.  

Happy retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder