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Article and photos by Joshua Maloni
News outlets this week have suggested "Black Friday" is losing its appeal nationally, as more people opt to shop early or online the entire week before Thanksgiving.
While the "big box" chain stores may see a dip in their post-Turkey Day sales, retailers in the Village of Lewiston expect a large turnout Nov. 28.
"The first year, it was tough getting people on board, which I understand; the whole opening at 7 a.m. - it's a new concept for the village. Last year we did get several more. This year we're up to 10 businesses," said Lewiston "Black Friday" organizer Jamie Symmonds. "My intention is that, eventually, if this event can continue to grow, more businesses get involved, it will encourage people who maybe don't like to go out and do the 'big box' shopping, per se, but wouldn't mind coming to the Village of Lewiston to do their 'Black Friday' shopping - and shop small businesses instead of hitting up the big malls and the crowds and all of that."
For the third year in a row, local merchants are opening early and offering deep discounts to shoppers leery of long lines, and the "Black Friday" pushing and shoving often shown on TV newscasts. Village vendors promise patrons they'll find a better buying experience in Lewiston.
"I had an experience this morning," Symmonds said. "A customer had bought a pair of earrings from me last week (at Angel to Apple). This is a classic example of the difference between a 'big box' and a small store - a 'mom and pop' shop. She bought a pair of earrings, but they were very long and big. She said, 'Is there any way that you could make them into two?' and I said, 'Yes, I can.' I brought them back; she came today to pick them up, and she thought that was just the nicest, most amazing customer service. ... She said, 'I would never get (that) someplace else.' And I think that's a classic example of the difference.
"I shop and eat at a lot of the places in Lewiston, and that's exactly the experience you get. You get that customer service. ... They know your name. They know what you normally are looking for. They always go that extra little step - instead of these big shops and big malls (that) just don't get that."
"I think there's this new push for small shops and shopping small, because we are the heart of America," Symmonds said. "And not only that, you're supporting your neighbors; possibly family, friends. So I'm hoping that, over time, this will be just like any other event or festival that we have in town. We seem to be pretty successful at having our festivals. So I'm hoping this is just another event to add to the calendar of events."
The next day, Lewiston and River Region stores will participate in "Small Business Saturday."
"Businesses in the Niagara River Region will be offering special promotions on Nov. 29 to encourage visitors to 'Shop Small,' " Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Pauly said. She added, "The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce recognizes the importance of supporting small business in Lewiston, Youngstown, Ransomville, Sanborn and beyond in the jobs they help create, and the culture they instill in local communities."
This will be the first "Black Friday"/"Small Business Saturday" for Krista Tedesco, owner of Afterglow Spa & Hair Studio at 210 S. Ninth St.
"I just hope that more people understand that they can shop locally," she said. "They don't have to go to the malls and beat each other up in the malls to get what they need. They can come here and they can get great stocking-stuffers, they can get products, they can get gift certificates, they (can) go to all the local boutiques and they can get clothes - they can get anything in Lewiston, really."
"The mall is the mall. This is local. Why wouldn't you want to put your money back into where you live?" Tedesco added.
"Small Business Saturday" is now in its fifth year of encouraging people to "Shop Small." American Express created the campaign, which, its website said, is "a day to celebrate the local businesses that help make your neighborhood great." The movement's home page, www.shopsmall.com, offers resources for local businesses, and a map where users can find locally owned stores.
"The chamber has been busy making sure our participating business have their 'Shop Small' welcome mats and shopping bags," Pauly said. "We are encouraging our businesses to offer special promotions throughout the day, and to be creative! We partnered with The Village Bake Shoppe and delivered 'Shop Small' cookies to the first 20 businesses who responded that they were participating."
Last year, more than 1,450 "Neighborhood Champions" signed up to "rally their communities." To date, more than 3.3 million people have "Liked" the "Small Business Saturday" Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday.
Local merchants and consumers can learn more about "Small Business Saturday" and how to get involved by visiting www.NiagaraRiverRegion.com.
'Black Friday' participants, specials
Most stores will open at 7 a.m.
•Afterglow Spa & Hair Studio, 210 S. Ninth St. - Buy a gift certificate valued at $30 or more and get another gift certificate for 30 percent off.
•Angel to Apple Clothing & Shoe Boutique, 451 Center St. - Shop early and save big. The first customer into the store receives 30 percent off; the second receives 25 percent off; and the third receives 20 percent off. All others will receive 15 percent off until noon, and 10 percent off from noon until 6 p.m.
•D'Avolio, 449 Center St. - Oils and vinegars are buy one, get one 50 percent off. Doorbusters will be offered from 7-10 a.m. All gift-wrapping and gift baskets will be 15 percent off.
•End of the Road Boutique, 335 Center St. - Early-bird special allows shoppers to save 20 percent (some exclusions apply) from 7-11 a.m.
•Ever After Consignment Boutique, corner of North Fourth and Center streets (Grandpaws Plaza) - Buy two items, get the third free.
•Lewiston Music, Center and South Eighth streets (Colonial Valley/CVS Plaza) - Buy one month of lessons, get one month free. Electric and acoustic guitar packages start at $125.
•Lovin My Bags, 700 Center St. - Customers can receive 20 percent off all Chamilia Jewelry. Next door, Naturally Organics will offer a gift bag with a 1-ounce organic hand lotion and 1-ounce organic lip balm with purchase.
•Sgt. Pepper's Hot Sauces, Etc., corner of North Fourth and Center streets (Grandpaws Plaza) - Save 20 percent of all products from 7-10 a.m.
•Soully Created, 744 Center St. - Patrons will save 15 percent all day.
•Village Goldsmith, 744 Center St. - Take 25 percent off the entire inventory for both "Black Friday" and "Small Business Saturday."
These businesses will participate in "Small Business Saturday," too.
Others participating that day include Tuscana Salon & Spa, Niagara Jet Adventure, Anchor Spirits, Grandpaws Pet Emporium, Antique to Chic, The Country Doctor and Fantasy Village Salon. Find their sales and specials at www.NiagaraRiverRegion.com.
Sgt. Pepper's Hot Sauces, Etc., is one of the unique local Lewiston stores offering discounts on "Black Friday" and "Small Business Saturday." Pictured is storeowner Neil Garfinkel.