Earlier openings at bigger stores help local businesses, too

Stores discuss the aftermath of the biggest shopping weekend of the year

PLYMOUTH — It’s been well publicized that large chain stores such as Best Buy and Target continue to open their Black Friday sales earlier and earlier — this year some deals began as early as 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
“I think (those in retail believe) we are open quite a few days, and what’s another few hours?” said Plymouth Hallmark manager Chris Emerick.
These early openings have had a positive effect on smaller stores in the area, however.
Connie Simons, manager at Shoe Show, said that some customers in the store Friday had been shopping in the South Bend/Mishawaka area all night before coming to Plymouth to continue shopping locally.
“We did a lot better than we thought,” said Simons. “I think it was (also) the weather. With it being nicer outside it kept people out (longer).”
Shoe Show opened at 7 a.m., two and a half hours earlier than they would on a normal Friday. Their special deals included women’s and girl’s winter fashion boots at half off.
Sales at Hallmark were booming as well, according to Emerick. Along with the usual holiday shopping staple of ornaments and boxed Christmas cards, the store also saw sales of religious and family-themed products go up.
“We did really well,” said Emerick. “It was a fun day.”
Small Business Saturday, an attempt to bring some of the shopping energy to smaller stores, went equally as well the next day.
Emerick said she heard several customers comment “I’m shopping small businesses today” Saturday.
Many of them said they had discovered downtown stores they were previously unaware of.
Encore Consignment, in downtown Plymouth, didn’t open any earlier for either Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, but owner Pattie Udsten said shoppers flooded in anyway.
“We had incentives for spend $25 get $5 in Encore money,” said Udsten.
Shoppers were awarded additional “Encore money” for visiting all three stores in Plymouth, Nappanee, and Bremen in the same day.
“We usually try to do fun things,” said Udsten. “We found out a lot of people don’t do Black Friday at the mall.”
Udsten also credits social networking for bringing in customers. The store posts pictures of newly acquired merchandise on their Facebook page.
Dorothy Snyder, owner of Dorothy’s Hallmark, commented that people seem to be buying Christmas gifts early this year.
“It’s going to be a very exciting Christmas season for small businesses,” said Snyder.