Downtown retailers hoping for more strong sales on Five Fridays
By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY — Black Friday was far from black for some downtown retailers.
Holiday Night Out drew hundreds to local shops, while carolers and bands provided a holiday atmosphere.
At Salisbury Wine Shop, the Victorian Voices quartet sang while customers sampled flan and a variety of wines.
“Black Friday has been real good to us,” co-owner Bob Potter said.
“We’ve had sales better tonight than in the last five weeks.”
Potter’s store is one of 17 downtown businesses taking part in Five Fridays.
Participating shops and restaurants will stay open until at least 8 p.m. on Fridays between now and Christmas.
Many will offer special deals and promotions. Potter said his store will stay open until 8 and will offer a tasting event of some sort weekly.
On evenings when there is no formal tasting, Potter said, there will be a special offer to taste from among a selection of eight wines.
“I hope (customers) see that we have a selection of wines and beers that you can’t get anywhere else,” Potter said.
Nearby, at Stitchin’ Post Gifts, Pam Hylton Coffield said her store will have something special — refreshments, maybe, plus a free gift or a special discount promotion — on each Friday night.
She said she was glad to keep the store open for Five Fridays.
“This gives (shoppers) who can’t get here by 5:30 during the week a day that they don’t have to rush,” she said.
Stitchin’ Post is also participating in the Small Business Saturday promotion being held today across the country at stores where American Express credit cards are accepted.
Two young customers, Regan Bell and Haley Talbert of Salisbury, said they’d rather shop locally.
Bell said she had come hoping to find a pair of shoes by manufacturer Toms Shoes, which aren’t available at many retailers.
“They just have cooler stuff to look at,” Talbert said.
Two blocks away at The Sweetest Thing, Lynne Harrell put the finishing touches on the evening’s dinner service.
The bakery café is known for its lunch service. Lynne and husband Josh began testing out their new dinner menu the week before Thanksgiving.
They plan to offer special promotions, including a “buy one, get one free” deal on cookies and cupcakes to celebrate Small Business Saturday.
“I’m hoping it will be better this year than it was last year,” Harrell said.
And next door at Dead Ed’s, alternative clothing and accessories were priced to move.
Stacey and Scott Cannon said their Black Friday began at 9 a.m.
They were ready to open again this morning at 10 and stay open until 9 p.m. or until the last customers left.
“We’re hoping this kicks off our December,” Stacey said.
For Dawn Mitchell of Baltimore, Md., there was no question where she’d go on Black Friday.
She came to Literary Bookpost, another Five Fridays participant.
“I’m a bookie from way back,” Mitchell said.
Her sister lives in China Grove, she said.
“Every year we come down to visit, and every year we tolerate Thanksgiving so that we can go to the bookstore,” she laughed.
This year was her eighth coming to the downtown independent bookstore.
Her attitude was shared by many who came to the Holiday Night Out: better to spend a few more dollars to support local businesses than fight crowds to save a few bucks.
“Coming to this bookstore feels like the start of Christmas to me,” Mitchell said.
Likewise, local retailers hope that among the carols and the crowds, this Friday night will be the start of a better Christmas despite the struggling economy.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.