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The shopping rituals of Black Friday got under way on Thanksgiving, at least for some Shelby County merchants, but shop owners in downtown Shelbyville are geared to an increase in traffic today and into Shop Small Saturday, which is geared to smaller merchants.
Walmart was one of the first stores in the U.S. to expand their Black Friday business to Thursday. In 2012, Walmart stores across the nation opened their doors at 8 p.m. on Thursday to welcome pre-Christian deal-shoppers. This year, its store in Shelbyville and others – including Goody’s – got in a full run of customer service on the holiday.
“Business was good [last year],” said Andrei Radzionau, manager of the Shelbyville Goody’s store. “We opened at eight p.m. and had a good number of customers. It was better than what we saw on Friday morning.”
After being open on Thursday night, Goody’s reopened again this morning at 6.
“Many people want to go out the night before Black Friday rather than get up early,” Goody’s employee Jessica Burks said. “I don’t mind working that night. We’ll have fun together.”
Said Radzionau: “Our corporate offices offer sales deals for both Thursday and Friday shoppers.”
Shelbyville’s Main Street will be quiet on Thursday, with most merchants closing for the holiday, but that will change starting today.
“The malls and big stores open on Thursday – that’s fine,” says Dori Eversole Lewis, owner of the Polkadotted Pineapple Boutique. “We don’t need to compete with them for Thanksgiving Day business. We’re unique. We will be open for customers on Friday, and we’ll still have Thursday to celebrate with our own families.”
Lewis’ sentiment echoes up and down Main Street, as many local merchants chose to let Thanksgiving Day be set aside for family celebrations.
“Our big surge of customers will come on Friday afternoon,” Lewis said. “People will get up early and go to the big stores to get their Black Friday deals, then stop in on Main Street to shop on their way home.”
Eric Stearns, owner of At Home on Seventh and Main, agrees. “Business picks up downtown on Black Friday, but it’s people looking for the unique shopping we offer,” he said.
Many Main Street shoppers will be family members who have come in from out of town for the holiday. The merchandise offered in locally owned shops appeals to people who want to get away from what everyone else has.
Small Business Saturday also helps local merchants raise awareness of “shopping small” during the Thanksgiving weekend. Anyone who uses Facebook regularly likely has seen the Shop Local postings urging people to support local stores on Saturday. It’s a nationwide campaign that urges people to shop Main Street and support their local communities.
The number of new shops opening on Shelbyville’s Main Street draws more people downtown this holiday season. People want to check out the new stores for themselves, or show their friends and relatives the unique offerings that have been added in the past few months. These stores rely on November and December sales to get them through the year.
One new boutique, The Tipsy Gypsy, offered “buy one, get one half off” deals the weekend before Thanksgiving and is continuing.
“I’ve got specials planned throughout the holiday shopping season to entice customers into the shop,” owner Cheryl Poore said. “We’re totally different from mall shopping. Shopping downtown Shelbyville is more than a one-day event.
“I sent out my Christmas cards early this year, to let friends know that Tipsy Gypsy is open. Every other post I make on Facebook encourages people to shop local, especially with Shop Local Saturday scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.”\
“We’ll have two Men’s Nights in December, the tenth and the eighteenth, when I’ll furnish hot wings and beer. Women can come in before these dates and fill out a wish list of items in the store. Men come in for Men’s Night and shop from the list. We’ll wrap their purchases, and the guys will go home with their bellies full and their presents in hand.
“We’ll also have a Ladies Night later in December with discounts for the ladies filling their gift list, or perhaps shopping for themselves.”
At Home on Seventh and Main, which offers an eclectic mix of repurposed furniture, antiques and items for the home, will offer specials and extended holiday hours during December.
“I regularly post my store specials on Facebook,” Stearns said. “I work with merchants in other shops to keep business local. If I’m going to be open, I see if other shops are open, too. If people come to me looking for a particular item, and I don’t have it, I send them to other local merchants. We help each other and our businesses around town.”