By Jeff Kiger, The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Retailers eager to ring up your holiday bonus don’t want you to get too comfortable after Thanksgiving dinner this year, as Black Friday seeps into Beige Thursday like gravy mixing with cranberry sauce.
The first national Big Box chains out of the gate this holiday season will be Sears, Toys R Us and Walmart. All three will roll out their door buster specials at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Kmart and Target will follow closely in the next wave and open at 9 p.m. Rounding out the post-dinner shopping, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Macys and Old Navy all plan to kick things off before all of the pumpkin pie is gone by opening their doors at midnight.
The competition may be a little hotter this year with the average shopper expected to spend $704.18 on gifts, a 4.1 percent increase over 2011, according to the National Retail Federation.
However, the Retail Federation’s annual shopping survey anticipates that fewer shoppers will be out in the stores on Black Friday and the following weekend. About 147 million people are forecasted to start buying gifts then compared to 152 million that did in 2011.
No matter how it breaks down, there is a lot of money on the table for businesses, many of which have struggled through this year.
Locally owned, independent stores are making their own pushes to reach holiday shoppers before and after the Thanksgiving/Black Friday feeding frenzy, instead of running head-on at the giant chains.
shoppers. But Rochester’s local businesses have much more to offer than just bargains, she adds.
“These are unique stores with lots of different things you’d never find at the Big Boxes. Shopping local directly helps Rochester’s economy,” Stephenson says. Revisiting its successful Whiteout Wednesday promotion, the Rochester Downtown Alliance is working with 32 local businesses to offer special holiday buys on Wednesday, before the turkey even starts defrosting.
“The owners of these smaller stores are busy working in them and can’t focus as much on marketing. This is a way we can help them out,” said Caitlin Stephenson, RDA’s marketing and events coordinator.
This is the third year of this event. Stephenson says local shops like Broadway Jewelry & Visual Arts, Nu On U, Games by James and Nordic Gypsy Beads, among many others, are offering good buys for the pre-Thanksgiving holiday.
That’s also the prime focus of Small Business Saturday, a national campaign that has been around for a number of years.
One local “shop” is hitting the road Saturday to offer a “sPAWcial shopping experience” to its furry fans and their owners.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, Pam Miller plans to park her mobile canine-related gift shop/gourmet dog treats business at Rochester’s North Dog Park on West Circle Drive.
Since this summer, Miller has been taking her Bone Appetit Canine Bakery Unleashed van directly to her canine-clientele in the Med City area.
“Basically, I open up the door and it turns into a small store. It is still kind of new for Rochester, but the dog parks are a real fun venue for us,” she said. “Bring your dog Saturday and do a little shopping.”
Miller has sold her home-made gourmet dog treats locally for many years. This is just her latest approach sniff out area dog lovers. Beside selling her four varieties of treats plus a dog-friendly cake mix, BACB Unleashed also carries specialty pet supplies and gifts for pet lovers.
A strong advocate for small business, she encourages people to include stops at local shops during their holiday shopping outings. While she realizes people will shop at the Big Box stores, all Miller asks is that they give locally-owned stores a chance and try to spend a portion of that $704 right here in southeastern Minnesota.
“There are so many shopping options for people. I want everyone to know that money spent locally with small businesses comes back into the community in a big way. It is good for all of us,” she said.