National retailers like Kohl’s, Best Buy and Target were crowded with Black Friday shoppers starting as early as 9 p.m. Thursday, but the number of shoppers walking down Massachusetts Street on Friday was small compared with those at the big-name stores.
Shop owners downtown are hoping local residents will participate in Small Business Saturday and continue their holiday buying at local businesses for the weekend and through the holiday season.
“I think that the tradition is to hit the Targets of the world and Best Buys or whatever on Black Friday morning and then on Saturday maybe continue your shopping once the box-store rush wears off,” Downtown Lawrence Inc. director Cathy Hamilton said.
Small Business Saturday is a national campaign for customers to spend money at smaller local stores, and businesses unique to Lawrence are supporting the idea.
“They’re treating it likes it’s a new thing, but back in the day, everybody shopped local, so I think it’s a really positive thing to return to,” Hamilton said. “Our merchants are embracing the day and having specials.”
Many businesses along Massachusetts Street said they seemed to have more customers than on the average Black Friday.
“Black Friday always kicks off the holiday season, and it’s been busier than anticipated,” Weaver’s Department Store president Joe Flannery said. “We expect (Saturday) to be better than last year just because of the awareness and publicity that is going on nationwide.”
Flannery likes the attention being put on small businesses because he believes in the power of shopping locally, which not only helps the local economy and generates jobs, but also helps area businesses to be able to support local charities.
“Last year there was a big push to shop local and this year too,” Jock’s Nitch manager Scott Ozier said. “It keeps the money in town and for the families who work here allows them to go out and shop as well.”
Lawrence resident Lindsey Morris began her Black Friday shopping at 11 p.m. Thursday. She went to national retailers like Walmart and J.C. Penney until 7 a.m. and returned to downtown Lawrence to continue shopping late Friday morning.
Morris said she wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but came downtown to browse and see what deals local merchants might have.
Karin Barrett, sales associate at Blue Dandelion Children’s Boutique, said she thinks most people, like Morris, do their Black Friday shopping at big stores before coming to Massachusetts Street.
“We’re expecting even more for Small Business Saturday, so we’re hoping for a bigger crowd downtown,” Barrett said.