When Susan Parent opened her downtown Gloucester Todleloos! store at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving two years ago, she recalled drawing a good early crowd.
Last year, she followed suit — but didn’t get nearly the “Black Friday” draw because those who had come the year before noted that she was the only one open.
That won’t happen this year. Parent and other downtown businesses — 26 as of last week — are all planning to open at 6 a.m. on Friday, other shops and businesses around Cape Ann are planning to follow suit, and Ed Muzio is planning to move the Black Friday opening of his Sears family home store on Eastern Avenue from last year’s 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., just a half hour into the traditional holiday shopping kickoff.
And while some old-time merchants and shoppers may cringe at the earlier and earlier dawn — or pre-dawn — of the holiday shopping season, the fact is these local businesses all deserve credit for taking the initiative and stepping up to the likes of shopping malls in Danvers and Peabody, rather than conceding business to them, as many local smaller-scale businesses have done for years.
Indeed, the businesses and shops of downtown Gloucester, Rockport and elsewhere provide local shoppers an important Black Friday alternative. That’s the chance to get into the celebratory spirit of Black Friday — so-called because it had traditionally helped put retailers’ ledgers “in the black” for the year — without having to brave the jammed aisles, food courts and crammed parking lots at the malls down the line. And it turns the spotlight on the advantages of shopping locally, especially on this day of “door-buster” specials and other bargain promotions.
To that end, the Black Friday plans for downtown Gloucester mark yet another coordinated effort that, through folks like Parent, Kids Unlimited’s Christine Orlando and others, have helped to build a unity and renewed spirit to the city’s downtown as a whole. That’s a good sign for the city, its residents and all of those consumers who would rather support their own downtown, at holiday time and throughout the year.
Let the early Black Friday shopping begin — right here on Cape Ann.