Originally created 01/18/98

Stores open for King holiday



When many consumers think of Veterans Day, Presidents Day and Memorial Day, sales come into their minds, too.

Many retailers hope the thought of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will follow the same pattern: No retailer surveyed by The Augusta Chronicle said his establishment would be closed Monday, the day set aside to observe the birthday of the slain civil rights leader. They said they are open that day like they are many other holidays.

Some retailers said they honor King by remaining open. Some see it as a day to serve the many consumers who do have the holiday off. Others see it as just another business day, to serve those who don't have the holiday off.

Their customers should drive their actions, said Barbara Andrews, associate professor of marketing at Augusta State University.

"Obviously, to make even a modest profit in retailing today is hard to do," she said. "It's a tough business."

She said that if customers expect the establishments to be closed, the retailers should consider closing. And they need to consider the demographics and ethnicity of their customers to determine how they should respond.

"Obviously, what's driving all of this is profit," Dr. Andrews said. She said retailers are open on many other holidays, too.

"What do people do when they get a day off?" the marketing professor asked. "They shop. It's the favorite pastime in America for a lot of people."

At J.C. Penney, they recognize that.

"We'll treat it like other holidays, with some specials going on," said Ed Asbridge, manager of the J.C. Penney department store in Augusta Mall. "I can't imagine anyone closing. Normally, when people are off, you try to make it as easy as you can" for them to shop.

While his store and other retailers close Thanksgiving and Christmas, when traffic would be very low, he said the King holiday is seen in the same light as George Washington's Birthday, Abraham Lincoln's Birthday and Veterans Day.

Betty Bennett, proprietor of Betty's Boutique, a larger-sized women's clothing store on Broad Street, said she will be honoring King by remaining open. She has not closed her store for the holiday during the nine years she's had her business.

"The way I look at it, I'm in business for business, and there're a lot of people off on Monday, and those people look for places to shop," she said. "I feel like if Dr. King was living and we had this discussion, I feel I have achieved a dream. I think he would not have any problem with what we plan to do. ... I'm here celebrating his dream on his birthday."

The shop owner said she looked forward to having the holiday off to shop when she worked for Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center as a nurse and a receptionist. She worked there for "20 something years" before she retired and opened her shop.

And one year, when she had help, she was able to take an hour or so off to attend a program honoring King.

Andrew Garnett has had his Baldino's Giant Jersey Subs franchise in Cherokee Plaza across from Regency Mall for 2 1/2 years.

"Normally, a business in its early stages, such as mine, has to stay open as much as possible because I deal in volume traffic," said Mr. Garnett, who also is president of the Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce.

"My being open that day is not a disrespect to Dr. King," he said. "It's strictly a business decision that I remain open. But I do support the holiday in spirit."

Mr. Garnett said he did have a special -- buy one, get one free -- on King Day one year, but saw a complaint in a weekly newspaper's complaint column and decided not to try it again.

"I couldn't ascertain from the statement if that was a shot at me or just somebody who objected it being used as a marketing tool," he said.

Faulkner Warlick, owner of Paul's Place restaurant on Broad Street, will be open to help make ends meet.

"I'm a small business," he said. "I need to work. I need to be open."

He said he asked his five-member staff if anyone wanted to be off, without pay. "They said they wanted to work, with that option," Mr. Warlick said. "They're probably in the same situation I'm in. They need to work."

King was a fine man, Mr. Warlick said. "He's a very important man. He did a lot for this country. But I'm a small business."

Although workers at banks and government offices won't be around to patronize his restaurant, people who work at other nearby businesses will have workers who need to eat, he said.

While retailers will have various reasons for remaining open Monday, a customer service representative at a department store in Augusta seemed to reflect the sentiment some in retail have for the holiday.

"That's not considered a holiday, honey," she said over the phone.

BYLINE1:By Donna W. Rogers

BYLINE2:Business Editor

When many consumers think of Veterans Day, Presidents Day and Memorial Day, sales come into their minds, too.

Many retailers hope the thought of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will follow the same pattern: No retailer surveyed by The Augusta Chronicle said his establishment would be closed Monday, the day set aside to observe the birthday of the slain civil rights leader. They said they are open that day like they are many other holidays.

Some retailers said they honor King by remaining open. Some see it as a day to serve the many consumers who do have the holiday off. Others see it as just another business day, to serve those who don't have the holiday off.

Their customers should drive their actions, said Barbara Andrews, associate professor of marketing at Augusta State University.

"Obviously, to make even a modest profit in retailing today is hard to do," she said. "It's a tough business."

She said that if customers expect the establishments to be closed, the retailers should consider closing. And they need to consider the demographics and ethnicity of their customers to determine how they should respond.

"Obviously, what's driving all of this is profit," Dr. Andrews said. She said retailers are open on many other holidays, too.

"What do people do when they get a day off?" the marketing professor asked. "They shop. It's the favorite pastime in America for a lot of people."

At J.C. Penney, they recognize that.

"We'll treat it like other holidays, with some specials going on," said Ed Asbridge, manager of the J.C. Penney department store in Augusta Mall. "I can't imagine anyone closing. Normally, when people are off, you try to make it as easy as you can" for them to shop.

While his store and other retailers close Thanksgiving and Christmas, when traffic would be very low, he said the King holiday is seen in the same light as George Washington's Birthday, Abraham Lincoln's Birthday and Veterans Day.

Betty Bennett, proprietor of Betty's Boutique, a larger-sized women's clothing store on Broad Street, said she will be honoring King by remaining open. She has not closed her store for the holiday during the nine years she's had her business.

"The way I look at it, I'm in business for business, and there're a lot of people off on Monday, and those people look for places to shop," she said. "I feel like if Dr. King was living and we had this discussion, I feel I have achieved a dream. I think he would not have any problem with what we plan to do. ... I'm here celebrating his dream on his birthday."

The shop owner said she looked forward to having the holiday off to shop when she worked for Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center as a nurse and a receptionist. She worked there for "20 something years" before she retired and opened her shop.

And one year, when she had help, she was able to take an hour or so off to attend a program honoring King.

Andrew Garnett has had his Baldino's Giant Jersey Subs franchise in Cherokee Plaza across from Regency Mall for 2 1/2 years.

"Normally, a business in its early stages, such as mine, has to stay open as much as possible because I deal in volume traffic," said Mr. Garnett, who also is president of the Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce.

"My being open that day is not a disrespect to Dr. King," he said. "It's strictly a business decision that I remain open. But I do support the holiday in spirit."

Mr. Garnett said he did have a special -- buy one, get one free -- on King Day one year, but saw a complaint in a weekly newspaper's complaint column and decided not to try it again.

"I couldn't ascertain from the statement if that was a shot at me or just somebody who objected it being used as a marketing tool," he said.

Faulkner Warlick, owner of Paul's Place restaurant on Broad Street, will be open to help make ends meet.

"I'm a small business," he said. "I need to work. I need to be open."

He said he asked his five-member staff if anyone wanted to be off, without pay. "They said they wanted to work, with that option," Mr. Warlick said. "They're probably in the same situation I'm in. They need to work."

King was a fine man, Mr. Warlick said. "He's a very important man. He did a lot for this country. But I'm a small business."

Although workers at banks and government offices won't be around to patronize his restaurant, people who work at other nearby businesses will have workers who need to eat, he said.

While retailers will have various reasons for remaining open Monday, a customer service representative at a department store in Augusta seemed to reflect the sentiment some in retail have for the holiday.

"That's not considered a holiday, honey," she said over the phone.