SALEM — The challenge for Marie Petrucci, the owner of the new Avalanche Company Store on Front Street, is to let shoppers know that her store sells warm fleece jackets that can be found at many major retailers, but at prices that come directly from the family-owned sportswear maker.
In other words, Petrucci says, you don’t have go to the mall at 12:30 in the morning on Black Friday to take advantage of bargains at her store.
“People want to shop local,” says Petrucci, who opened the retail store for Salem-based Avalanche sportswear in September. “They don’t want to deal with all the craziness.”
Several doors down, Kate Leavy, the owner of Roost, The Beehive and Scrub, says she will not be losing any sleep on Black Friday. She plans to open her gift stores at 10 a.m. that day.
“I have plenty of customers who went to the mall on Black Friday,” Leavy said.
For many of her regulars, hunting for bargains on Black Friday is a family tradition. Then, they grab a cup of coffee and stroll around downtown. Turns out that December, Leavy said, not October, with all the frenzy surrounding Salem’s Haunted Happenings, is her busiest month of the year.
Downtown merchants on the North Shore may wonder how they can capture a slice of business from the 147 million people that the National Retail Federation estimates intend to shop during the busy holiday weekend.
Some say the Saturday after Thanksgiving may be the answer. For the third year in a row, American Express is hyping Small Business Saturday, urging holiday shoppers to spend their dollars locally on the day after Black Friday. The credit card company says 100 million people shopped local during last year’s event.
Shoppers who enroll their American Express cards online at www.ShopSmall.com can receive a $25 statement credit. Local merchants just have to be open on Nov. 24 and accept American Express cards to take part in the promotion. Enrollments are limited, and there are other caveats that cardholders and small businesses need to be aware of.