Back in Black Friday
In the dark, early morning hours of the day after Thanksgiving,
many people forgo sleeping off their turkey dinner to shop for extreme discounts and promotions.
Others prefer sleeping in comfortably at home, spending time with family and nibbling leftover drumsticks over the blackout that is congested roadways and checkout aisles.
Rejoiced or despised, the day known to retailers and holiday shoppers as Black Friday has an undeniable impact on Christmas lists and the economy. Arguably the biggest shopping day of the year, it marks for many the beginning of the holiday gift-buying season.
Friday, Nov. 26, opens what Dan Meyer, president of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, expects to be a very good holiday season for High Country retailers. He said businesses are dependent on money generated by sales during Black Friday and the following weeks.
“The holiday season can be as much as 50 or 60 percent of their annual revenue, so this is critical time,” he said.
Despite housing few of the big box stores, which advertise major Black Friday sales, the High Country will receive plenty of business this weekend from locals and visitors to the area. From small business to outlet centers, many retailers are opening their doors early and offering deals comparable to those found in metropolitan shopping hubs.
Old Navy, JCPenney and Belk, all in the Boone Mall, will be among the earliest risers. The stores open at 3 a.m. on Friday.
“It’s definitely one of the busiest days of the year,” said Meredith Golden, manager at the Boone Mall, which will be extending its general shopping hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for Black Friday.
Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway in Blowing Rock is also accommodating holiday shoppers, with its 20-plus name brand outlet stores opening at 6 a.m. and closing at 10 p.m.
Locally owned businesses are also jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon. Mast General Store is one of many smaller stores opening their doors early and offering special discounts. The Boone location begins business at 9 a.m., an hour earlier than usual.
Angela Warren, marketing director for Mast General, said between 9 and 10 a.m. on Friday, their stores will be offering customers a “create your own sale coupon” for 40 percent off any item in the store. People can pick up the coupon in the morning and return on the same day to receive the discount.
“Because so many other stores are offering things we can’t compete with, just to be realistic and honest, they go away to those sales and then come back later in the day,” she said.
Black Friday in the High Country isn’t just about shopping for Christmas gifts, but picking out the tree under which they will sit for the next several weeks. Choose-and-cut Christmas tree sales will also serve as a boon to the economy, as many families will travel to the High Country to find a Frasier fir.
Meghan Baker, the agriculture extension agent for Watauga County, said tree sales surge in the days surrounding Black Friday. “Thanksgiving weekend is the biggest weekend for chose-and-cut sales in our county,” she said.
Baker said at least 50 percent of customers are “day-trippers,” people who are coming to the area from within a day’s drive, typically from the N.C. Piedmont. She said many of those people spend time and money at other places in the High Country.
“When they’re driving up from two to three hours away, they’re making a day of it,” she said. “They’re more than likely stopping at local restaurants, they’re stopping at local shops, so it’s a good impact to the local economy, as well.”
Meyer said many of those who come to the High Country for a tree return on this particular weekend year after year. Choosing a tree, cutting it, enjoying a meal with family at a local restaurant and doing some shopping in one trip is an experience unique to the High Country.
“It becomes a tradition, it becomes something we do as a family and develops memories,” he said. “Everybody’s experiencing together, and we remember all the fun things that are happening on those types of trips.”
Black Friday isn’t for everybody. Even Meyer, who values his family time, said he’s not interested in getting caught up in the bustle.
“If it were me, I don’t want to get in that crowd,” he said. “Why make it one day, which leads to longer lines, your frustration? People don’t necessarily have that day off. There’s another cost – you can take that day off to get those deals? I’m not sure that makes good wallet sense.”
The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, instead of emphasizing on a singular day, is focusing on a shopping mindset spread across the season: “Shop LOCAL Saturdays.” The campaign, with the slogan, “Closer is better,” encourages people to do their holiday shopping on the weekends and at local businesses.
“Let the shopping fit into my schedule as opposed to forcing my schedule fitting into it,” he said. “If you’re going to schedule a shopping trip, save yourself some money. We’re going to take that same time and shop locally. Do it up here and enjoy the closer experience.”