Despite cold weather and COVID-19, customers showed up to shop local on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. For the most part, people were satisfied with the stores, but some still have more shopping to do this season.
In Norman’s Fine Gifts there was a steady amount of customers throughout the day, according to owner Kelly Bennett. Customers have been happy with what they found and almost everyone was able to pick up something, Bennett said. Last year was the best Black Friday sale her store had seen and, before she finished crunching the numbers, Bennett estimated this year’s Black Friday was just as good.
Shipping delays have been a double-edged sword, according to Bennett. She won’t be able to restock inventory once things sell out because of shipping woes, but people have been relying more on small businesses, she said. Her sales are helped by the fact that people are traveling less and Kodiak has rallied behind local businesses, Bennett said.
The store manager at Big Ray’s, Lenny Heglin, attributes some of Big Ray’s success to people “keeping things local.” Big Ray’s is one of many companies that had a lucrative Black Friday, according to Heglin. The sales were even comparable to pre-pandemic years, he said. People were respectful and friendly too, he said.
This year was a lot calmer than previous years, according to shopper Danica Dela Cruz. Two years ago, she remembered waiting in a long line outside of Walmart, waiting for the store to open. This year, that wasn’t a problem, she said.
Dela Cruz and her boyfriend, Souleth Long, got everything they were looking for on Friday and Saturday. At Walmart, they got 26-piece plastic storage container set for $7; at Big Ray’s they found jackets; and when they went to Three Sisters on Saturday, they picked up candles they wanted, she said. In all, she was happy with their haul.
Karen Lee also had a good experience on Black Friday. Lee never liked crowds and rarely shopped on Black Fridays before the pandemic, but this year she couldn’t resist buying an indoor flower pot at Sutliff’s Ace Hardware, she said. She was happy to note that, even though Sutliff’s was busier than usual, she didn’t have to wait in a line.
Faith Flerchinger utilized coupons to get the best deal. At Grand Slam, she used $5 coupons that the store gave out to her kids during Halloween to maximize her discount. However, she wasn’t completely satisfied: The specific pan that she wanted from Walmart, which the store advertised, never got delivered to the island, she said.
There are some people who refuse to shop on Black Friday. Lissa Woodbury Jensen was traumatized by a shopping experience she had at Walmart 15 years ago when people were fighting over products and swiping them from other people’s carts. As a general rule, she avoids Black Friday shopping.
“It’s not worth it for me to save 10-20% on something and go through that madness,” Woodbury Jensen said. “I’d rather spend the extra money and avoid it.”
She is not the only one who isn’t rushing to finish all of her shopping that day.
Typically, people go to stores like Big Ray’s or Walmart and save their jewelry shopping for later, Daniel Eubanks, the owner of Daniel’s Fine Jewelry, said.
Daniel’s Fine Jewelry had five customers each day on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, but this didn’t come as a surprise to Eubanks. Despite having a 10% off everything in the store sale, Daniel’s Fine Jewelry always has less customers than usual on Black Fridays. For Small Business Saturday, he doesn’t have less-than-normal shoppers, but he rarely sees a notable increase in the number of people buying from the store.
In comparison to previous Black Fridays and Small Business Saturdays, customers spent less than average, he said, but he isn’t despairing.
“It’s slower for me, but maybe busier for someone else,” he said. “Tomorrow may be busier for me, but slower for someone else.”