Locally-owned shops in the Augusta and Aiken areas are providing extended store hours and 50 percent discounts to meet this year’s throng of day-after Thanksgiving shoppers.
Van Smith, the owner of Lionel Smith Limited clothing store at 132 Laurens St. SW in Aiken, said one of his Black Friday specials is simple: reminding his employees that customers come first.
“It’s all good stuff you don’t think you have to remind people, but you have to remind people a lot,” he said.
“Everybody gets tired. They have a big dinner for Thanksgiving, and everybody’s sluggish coming into work. But you also need to make sure everybody understands where we stand. A lot of different things happen at one time. You’re going to get tired, but you need to stay on your game. And the customers are tired, too.”
Seasonal revenue is a boon for major retailers, but smaller local shops also rely on the surge of shopping to meet annual sales goals.
Smith, whose store specializes in menswear, said he generates about 20 percent of his annual business during the period from Black Friday to Christmas.
Amy Epps, the owner of The Swank Co., which sells jewelry, handbags and home décor, said half of her annual business occurs late November and December.
To get people in the door during Black Friday, the traditional beginning to the Christmas shopping season, Swank Co. is offering customers 30 percent discounts on all items bought before noon, Epps said. The discount special will drop to 20 percent from noon to closing at 8 p.m., she said.
Though her store’s year-to-year sales have remained steady, Epps said she’s noticed customers are now buying fewer holiday-related items.
“People are buying things that can be used year-round,” she said. “Those include pieces of luggage and jewelry.”
PeachMac, an Apple retailer at 4158 Washington Road in Evans, will be open six more hours on Black Friday, said store manager Andre Glover. The shop is normally open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, but will open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. on Black Friday, he said.
Linda Rybicki, a manager with Boots, Bridles & Britches, said the Aiken location at 1310 E. Pine Log Road will be open seven days a week from the Sunday following Black Friday to Christmas Eve.
David Hutchison, the owner of Book Tavern at 1026 Broad St. in downtown Augusta, said there will be 50 percent discounts on some of his new books on Black Friday.
Book Tavern’s year-to-year Black Friday sales ticked up every year until the economy began suffering in 2008, Hutchison said.
“I was seeing small, double-digit increases in sales every year,” he said. “After that, I saw declines of about the same, and it was the economy in general. Everything is affected by the economy.”
Hutchison said he has started relying on the following Saturday to soften Black Friday losses. American Express runs a promotion called Small Business Saturday that rewards the credit card company’s customers for shopping the day after Black Friday, he said.
“It didn’t make up for the loss, but it made the loss a lot smaller,” Hutchison said. “This year, I’m hoping for Black Friday and (Small Business) Saturday to be fantastic.”
Hutchison said he’s hoping to boost sales on Saturday by inviting local authors to his store to sign copies of their books. He said he also plans to give customers $1 coupons for every $10 spent at his store. The coupons could be used starting in January, he said.
Black Friday is by far one of the most hectic times of the year for retailers, but the boost in shoppers often becomes a fun experience for electronics stores, Glover said.
“It’s pretty brisk, but to me it’s fun. It’s something you got to have a love for,” he said. “A lot of the guys here are techies. So, it’s exciting to them. You get to talk to a lot of people about stuff you like talking about.”