Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why I May Not Participate in Black Friday this Year

It's not quite Halloween, and already our local supermarket is selling Christmas cards.  And, my email box is filling with posts from the couple of Black Friday sites I used in past years.

Yes, I'm one of those people who has participated in Black Friday for years.  It started out when my son (now a young adult) was young, just to be able to get parking at places like Sears, Kaybee Toys and Toys R Us. Besides his shopping I would do shopping for a local program (maybe it is national, but I think it is local) called the "Angel Tree".  This was before Black Friday became an organized sport, with stores opening at midnight and friends splitting up and keeping in touch with cell phones.  I never went that far but I've done my share of getting up at 4am and watching the sun come up as I headed home after several hours of early bird shopping

But probably not this year, because, although I've always tried to shop "local", that always seemed to go out the window in the Black Friday frenzy.  This year local businesses need us more.

Here's why.

My son sent me this picture of a local business, Unicorn Electronics, shortly after the 9/8-9/9/11 flood our community suffered after massive rainfalls from Tropical Storm Lee.  (this business is about a mile from my house).  I don't know how he got the picture but, interestingly, it seems to be the same as a picture on their website.  My family has done a lot of business at Unicorn Electronics over the years so I hope they don't mind if I use the picture.  They never fail to give the most excellent and caring customer service.  They freely give advice to me and to others I know (even if it involves them recommending a less expensive product than we had come in to ask about).  Their employees have all been there many years, which I think says it all.

This was Unicorn Electronics about 5 weeks after the flood.  Yes, they were open, with limited hours, operating out of a small trailer.  Today they are still there in that trailer.

How about wild bird lovers?  Another store in the same plaza, Wild Birds Unlimited, also sits empty.  They are part of a chain but I've always thought of them as a local store.

And here is their retail location as of mid-October.
Meanwhile, closer to my home, an entire plaza of mostly local stores (and an Aldi) sits empty. (this photo was taken on the 1 month flood anniversary but the situation is still the same today.)

See the "Greek House"?  This is a local restaurant run by an Egyptian by the name of Sam Mohammad.  Sam has run this restaurant for over 20 years.  Local neighborhood people and BAE employees would gather there for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner.  As of today, Sam isn't back and I don't even see any progress in the building.  I wonder if he has changed his mind.

The Peace of Mind  was an adult day care center.  The word here in the neighborhood is they are not going to reopen, as is at least one other business (a beauty supply store) in the plaza.

Nor will this nearby doctor's office.  The doctor had actually moved before the flood, but now the building is for sale 'as is'.
 And that brings me to the point of this post.  Our local businesses need us. They don't have the resources the big guys have to weather disaster (no pun intended).  Even the big guys are having trouble:  Closed right now, and still closed, "big guys" include:  Home Depot (will reopen, but unknown when), Christmas Tree Shop (rumor is it will relocate), Gander Mountain (will not reopen and there is a story behind that involving a local tragedy), Toys R Us, Five Below (reopening November 4), Party City, Petco (relocating, and if you read the link you will know the very tragic story behind that decision), a Hampton Inn motel, and some others that have slipped my mind.

So if the big guys are struggling, what are the small businesses going through?

They deserve our support.  And I hope I can help give them the support they need.  There are so many of them, and only one of me.

They are our neighbors.  And they need us.

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