By Gail McCarthy
---- — Black Friday fever has already hit Gloucester this year with more than 25 downtown shops planning to welcome next week’s day-after Thanksgiving shopping kickoff by opening at 6 a.m. with “door-buster” specials.
Susan Parent of Toodeloos!, who has spearheaded the initiative that includes shops all along Main and nearby side streets, said she even persuaded Lone Gull coffee shop to open at 5:45 a.m. on Nov. 23 — week from today — for caffeine-seeking shoppers.
Parent noted that each shop will do something different. The various shops may offer free drawings, door busters, giveaways, contests, and refreshments. Shoppers should look for the gold stars in the windows of participating shops.
“We will have tons of good cheer, family fun and great discounts,” said Parent, who first opened at 6 a.m. two years ago for a good crowd. Last year, she said, she saw a drop in early business because shoppers had noticed that nothing else was open. So this year, she’s led the early opening push — and estimated 26 shops will open their doors.
As of yesterday, the list includes: Toodeloos!, Island Art And Hobby, Jewels Of Gloucester, Pisces, Palazola’s, Premier Imports, Tiny Island Beach Glass, The Cave, The G33K Store, Common Crow, The Raven, Beth Williams Studio, Life Is Good/Harbor Goods, Local Colors, Bodin Historic Photo, Menage, Antique Store, Kids Unlimited, Mark Adrian Shoes, Stuff, Dogtown Books, Village Silversmith and The Bookstore of Gloucester.
As an example of what stores can do for Black Friday specials, Toodeloos! will offer 30 percent off everything from 6 to 8 a.m. and then 25 percent off from 8 to 10 a.m. and 20 percent off from 10 a.m. to closing.
“We’re going to have treats and drawings — and of course we will be dressed as elves from head to toe,” said Parent.
Kathy Bucholska, one of 18 artists at Local Colors on Main Street, will rise to the occasion to open the doors of the artists’ cooperative to be part of the event.
“The group decided to go for it. We want to be involved in what other stores are doing downtown, and it’s a good idea,” she said. “We as a group think that it is important to be involved and be a team player. I think it will be a win-win situation.”
Local Colors will set up a display with specially priced work, which will remain up throughout the season. They will set up a Keurig for hot drinks and put out cookies to welcome customers.
“We are as curious as everyone else to see what happens on Friday and I’m looking for to it,” said Bucholska.
Chris Orlando of Kids Unlimited, who has opened on Black Fridays at 8 a.m. in the past, will start out with her biggest discounts when she opens her doors at 6 a.m. this year until 8 a.m., with continued discounts throughout the day.
“You never know what will happen,” said Orlando. “Most of us know that people don’t have to travel out of town at midnight to get a good deal. They can come downtown at 6 a.m. and do just as well.”
In addition to the downtown effort, Sears in Gloucester, will open even earlier at 12:30 a.m. on Black Friday.
Owner Ed Muzio said there will be plenty of door-buster specials as well as 50 percent off deals. Two examples of door-busters include a 309-piece Craftsman tool set for $199 and a 24-inch flat-panel television for $150.
“Trucks are coming in daily bringing stock,” he said.
Meanwhile, at Changing Tides in Hometown Ace at Gloucester Crossing, there is a “marble” special on Black Friday in which customers choose a marble and get from 15 percent to 30 percent off the entire purchase.
Peter Webber, senior vice president of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, said the local Black Friday events are an opportunity to support local businesses and find some great buys.
“We certainly applaud the initiative of the downtown merchants to organize the Black Friday shopping,” he said. “The emphasis is on shopping locally and we think that’s tremendous.”
Webber further noted that this is only the beginning of more than a month of special activities planned for holiday shoppers, the next event being the Santa parade on Nov. 25, as well as the 38th annual Ladies and Men’s shopping nights, with the former on Dec. 6 and the latter on Dec. 13. The Middle Street Walk takes place on Dec. 8 and includes the lighting of the lobster trap tree.
A new event is planned on Dec. 20 with the first Family and Friends night, a time of extended shopping hours, with restaurants offering free desserts or appetizers, and carolers strolling the street. That is also the night for the drawing of the winner of the shopping spree raffle.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at email@example.com.