10 Lewiston stores participating
Preview by Joshua Maloni and Rachel Jolbert
Year after year, scores of Lewistonians awake in the middle of the night on the day after Thanksgiving to head out to chain stores and kick-start their holiday shopping.
It's a popular tradition ... that Lewiston retailers hope to end next week.
Village merchants are making a pitch for consumers to spend "Black Friday" in Lewiston. Ten locally owned and operated stores are offering special deals and door-busters, giveaways, discounts and free gift-wrapping.
"I watch these commercials for the 'big box' stores, and we can't do what they do; we can't do the commercials and run all the big things and the big monster sales and all that craziness they do," explained Angel to Apple owner Jamie Symmonds. For the past four years, she's been one of the few Lewiston retailers to offer "Black Friday" specials. This year, "I thought, if maybe all of us start doing it, or a good chunk, at least, maybe we can draw the people who don't want to go and (deal with the) madness of the big stores and all those people and stand in line at 2 in the morning?"
Angel to Apple is encouraging shoppers to arrive early on "Black Friday." The first person through the door at 7 a.m. will receive a 30 percent discount on store items. The second and third to enter will receive 25 and 20 percent off, respectively. Throughout the rest of the day, Symmonds will offer additional discounts while rewarding patrons with giveaways.
Tony Petrocelli, owner of Lewiston Music, another "Black Friday" participant, said he wants to change peoples' perception of the biggest in-person shopping day of the year.
"I don't like that 'Black Friday' is associated with 'big box' stores and waking up at 4 a.m.," he said.
Petrocelli is optimistic that, if people see stores in the Village of Lewiston open their doors earlier and offer special sales throughout the day, they may consider staying below the hill to do their holiday shopping.
Lewiston Music is offering a variety of "Black Friday" deals, including two months of lessons for the price of one, as well as 20 percent off all items in the store from 7 a.m. until noon, and 15 percent off all items after noon.
If shoppers turn out for Lewiston's "Black Friday" event this year, Petrocelli expects more retailers will join in the effort next year.
The other stores participating this time around include The Little Yellow Artisan House, Artzee, D'Avolio, End of the Road Boutique, Grandpaws Pet Emporium, Luxuries For Less, Mode Image and Savory Sips.
Jennifer Pauly, president of the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, has spent previous "Black Fridays" shopping in Lewiston.
"It all started with Jamie from Angel to Apple," she said. "She's been doing her 'Black Friday' promotion for a number of years now, and it's really appealed to her customers. I can say it's appealed because my sister or I have been the first one in her store for the past couple years, getting the best discount and taking advantage of her 'Black Friday' sales.
"She actually was the catalyst in encouraging other businesses to open up with her. We are excited that other businesses have taken the step and said, 'We're going to try it this year; we're going to open up and offer some great promotions and discounts and deals and hopefully grab some of those shoppers who are looking for a great deal and a different shopping opportunity to shop local.' "
Symmonds said there are many reasons to skip the "big box" store in favor of a local merchant.
"You're not dealing with all the crazy, crazy madness of the crowds," she said. "You definitely get more of a personal service, which I know I appreciate when I shop. And it's more specialized. You're going to find things that aren't as commercial."
Moreover, with the economy still recovering, Symmonds said, "I think this is an important time, right now, to shop local and support local businesses."
Lewiston businesses with "Black Friday" hours/events:
•Angel to Apple
•The Little Yellow Artisan House
•End of the Road Boutique
•Grandpaws Pet Emporium
•Luxuries For Less
These stores are expected to open at 7 a.m.