Merchants: Shop downtown Friday, Saturday | News

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While downtown Gloucester may not be the place to find doorbuster deals during the wee hours of Black Friday, local merchants are gearing up to get you and your local dollars in the door just the same.

“Ultimately, when people come and decide to spend Black Friday downtown with us, it means a lot,” said Adam Farber, a fifth-generation shoe retailer and owner of the family-owned and -operated Mark Adrian Shoes at 103 Main St.

Shopping local provides a way for the community and friends to come together, and while anyone can hunt down the steepest deals available, Farber said by shopping on Main Street “the money goes back into the community and we all win.”

Farber said the shoe store has been decorated for the holiday season and its staff are looking forward to seeing their regular customers.

“We are looking forward to a fun holiday season,” Farber said. and as we are getting further away from the COVID-19 pandemic, the holiday shopping season is “an opportunity to be together again.”

At The Weathervane gift shop, owner Joe Ciolino, director of the Gloucester Merchant Association which promotes the downtown, said of Black Friday on Main Street the association leaves it up to individual stores when they are going to open and what their deals might be.

The association is also promoting Small Business Saturday to encourage folks to shop local.

“Once again, we leave it up to individual stores what they want to do,” Ciolino said.

Shopping events

Merchants are also gearing up for the Downtown Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 27.

The parade kicks off at 3 p.m. from the Jodrey State Fish Pier on Parker Street, heads to Main Street and moves down to Western Avenue to Kent Circle for the tree lighting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. (With rain in the forecast for Sunday, Ciolino said organizers will make a call on Friday whether to postpone the parade for a week).

The Weathervane is a 31-year-old seacoast gift shop, offering a full line of Cape Pond Ice merchandise, among other items. He said his Black Friday deal is boxed nautical-themed Christmas cards that are half-priced.

As to COVID-19’s impact on Black Friday downtown, Ciolino said, “I’ve noticed through the pandemic people supporting us the best they can.”

Owner Susan Boye says her family-owned Toodleloos! toy store at 142 Main St. plans to open at 9 a.m. Black Friday which is earlier than normal.

“We usually post on Facebook and on Instagram that we will be opening an hour earlier,” she said. “We usually have a larger sale to be announced in the earlier morning hours and then we change it to a less than large sale after a certain time,” she said.

“Shop local, shop small, we really appreciate it,” Boye said.

Residents can also support downtown businesses on Ladies Night on Dec. 1, and on Men’s Night on Dec. 15, both from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Doyon’s Appliance has showrooms in Gloucester, Bedford, Reading and North Andover, but the store manager at 15 Whistlestop Way, Adam Mattson, said “Black Friday is not what it used to be.” Black Friday used to be geared toward one-day deals and doorbusters. When the store sold TVs, they used to have people lined up outside, but that was probably eight to 10 years ago.

“Now we do those deals all month long,” Mattson said.

Shopping small

Ken Riehl, the outgoing CEO of the Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber’s focus is not so much on Black Friday but on Small Business Saturday, and the need for folks to “Shop Small.”

Riehl said the five-community chamber is a “neighborhood champion” of Small Business Saturday, a promotion by American Express. He said representatives of the chamber plan to be out in Gloucester, Rockport, Ipswich, Essex and Manchester-by-the-Sea handing out Shop Small materials and taking photos for social media and encouraging folks to “shop small.”

Besides Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, Riehl said Manchester plans to hold its Holiday Stroll on Dec. 2 and Rockport is planning a holiday shopping night on Dec. 9.

The holiday shopping season is especially important for local merchants before “things go quiet” for the winter months. In Rockport, it’s “Free Parking Season,” when no payment is required at the downtown parking kiosks or meters now through April 14, as a way to encourage locals to shop locally.

Also in relation to the pandemic, Riehl said people are more comfortable being back in stores. He said local shoppers have heeded the call to shop local and have supported local retailers during the pandemic. Riehl said he plans to be out on Main Street in Gloucester on Saturday around 10 a.m. with Mayor Greg Verga to promote the need to shop local.

Rockport will also be getting into the spirit of Black Friday as the Rockport Art Association & Museum holds its annual Hand-Painted Holiday Ornament fundraiser. A line usually forms outside the historic art association before the doors open at 10 a.m. These one-of-a-kind ornaments are painted by the member artists and this year will be the 28th holiday ornament fundraiser. The ornaments are $50 and all proceeds benefit the art association.

Staff writer Gail McCarthy contributed to this report by Ethan Forman. He may be contacted at 978-675-2714, or eforman@northofboston.com.

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