Local retailers hope to cash in on Small Business Saturday

Some Black Friday store openings moved up to Thursday

November 23, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • A sign outside the Carol & Co. shop at 25 W. Washington St. in downtown Hagerstown encourages shoppers to support Small Business Saturday.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — As the Black Friday shopping phenomenon grows, pushing some post-Thanksgiving openings to Thursday evening, owners of many small, local businesses are hoping to cash in on the spending spirit.

The U.S. Senate has designated Nov. 26 as Small Business Saturday, a day to patronize local, independently-owned stores in recognition of their importance to the national economy.

Situated between the doorbuster sales of Black Friday and the typical spurt of online shopping known as Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is being promoted as a day to remember the Mom and Pop shops that rely just as heavily on holiday shopping to stay afloat.

“We all depend on Christmas,” said Darlene Strock, owner of The Village Country Peddler at 405 W. Franklin St. in Hagerstown. “That’s our biggest buying time.”

Strock plans to offer 20 percent off all purchases on Saturday as part of the Small Business Saturday movement. Her store, which sells gift items such as candles, jewelry and candy, will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Having a sale on Saturday instead of Friday makes it easier for a business of her size to compete with the draw of the Black Friday sales that cause hundreds of people to line up outside major retailers every year, she said.

This year, many stores plan to open their doors before the clock strikes midnight.

At Hagerstown Premium Outlets, openings are staggered, with many of the stores opening at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, and others following at 10 p.m., 11 p.m. and midnight.

The before-midnight openings came after store personnel noticed progressively larger crowds gathering earlier for the midnight sales, said Angela Riford, assistant general manager of Hagerstown Premium Outlets.

“Stores would rather have them in the store than waiting in line,” Riford said.

At Valley Mall, where stores open at different times beginning at midnight Thanksgiving Day, more stores are opening at or near midnight than in the past, spokeswoman Michele Wills said. There, 17 stores will be open by 12:15 a.m., according to the Valley Mall website.

Mom and Pop strategy
For Mom and Pop shops, the “doorbuster” model is not as effective, store owners said.

“I used to open earlier, and I would have some specials early (on Black Friday), but it wasn’t successful, because people want to go to the big-box stores to get all those big bargains,” Strock said. “I think they have started (Small Business Saturday) for that very reason, because the small businesses probably have all found that’s true.”

Carol & Co., a shop at 25 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown, also is embracing the Small Business Saturday movement, owner Kelly Renner said.

The shop, which sells Vera Bradley products, home decor items and other gifts, will offer specials throughout the store Friday and Saturday, Renner said. The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The Potomac Bead Co. at 53 W. Washington St. will offer 50 percent off select gemstones and 30 percent off crystal, mother of pearl and resin beads on Friday and Saturday, with hours of 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days, Manager Jenni Jones said.

Odyssey Gifts, a Williamsport shop specializing in Celtic jewelry and dragon, gargoyle and fairy collectibles, will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, owner Carolee Bartel said.

The shop, at 25 E. Potomac St., will offer 20 percent off fairy sculptures until noon both days and will give out $10 gift certificates to the first 20 people in the shop both days, she said.

Small shops offer not only more personal customer service, but also the satisfaction of knowing your purchase is important to the business, Bartel said.

“If you buy a $15 book from a big-box store, it would hardly make any difference to them, but it could make a huge difference for a small retailer,” she said.

Backing small business
In Shepherdstown, W.Va., many of the downtown shops and boutiques will be open for extended hours this weekend and next weekend, said Meredith Wait, president of the Shepherdstown Business Association.

Most shops will be open until 8 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday both weekends, Wait said.
“I wholeheartedly agree that we need to take care of our local businesses and support them throughout the year,” said Wait, owner of Dickinson & Wait Craft Gallery. “We’re here year-round. We’re your neighbors. Come out and support us all.”

Small Business Saturday has been promoted by American Express, which offered free $25 gift cards through Facebook and FedEx promotions for use at locally-owned independent businesses.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley also is promoting Small Business Saturday. In a Nov. 22 letter, O’Malley said that 85 percent of Maryland businesses employ fewer than 20 people.

“These are our neighbors, our friends and our local grocery store owners, and they are the backbone of our local economies,” O’Malley wrote.

The state’s tourism calendar — at — features a link to a Small Business Saturday promotional flier good for discounts or offers at participating small businesses throughout the state. No Hagerstown businesses are listed, but several shops in Frederick, Thurmont and Middletown, Md., are on the list.

In a news release about the Senate resolution about Small Business Saturday, U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., called small businesses the “driving force behind job creation in America.”

In Maryland, small employers account for 97.6 percent of the state’s employers, according to the release.

Black Friday opening times
• Hagerstown Premium Outlets: Staggered openings begin at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day with more than 30 stores; others open at 10 p.m., 11 p.m., and midnight.
• Valley Mall: Openings begin at midnight Thanksgiving Day with Bon-Ton, Macy’s and mall entrances; other stores open at various times, beginning with 15 stores at 12:15 a.m.; most stores open by 5 a.m.
• Target: Opens at midnight.
• Walmart: Open Thanksgiving Day; sales begin at 10 p.m.
• Best Buy: Opens at midnight Thanksgiving Day.
• Toys “R” Us: Opens at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

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