Black Thursday or Thanksgiving?Merchants begin to push gifts earlier

Becky Brehmer, owner of Razzmatazz, 552 Main Street in downtown Grand Junction setting up a Christmans dispaly in the store and getting ready for Black Friday.



Mesa Mall is offering a variety of hours and events to make it fun and convenient for holiday shoppers to make their purchases:

■ Thursday, Nov. 28 - Mesa Mall opens at 8 p.m. Fifty shopping survival bags handed out at 10 p.m. along with refreshments.

■ Friday, Nov. 29 - Prizes for people who solve clues on Mesa Mall’s Facebook page.

■ Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 - Pet pictures with Santa.

  ■ Dec. 9 - Girl Scouts decorate Christmas trees near JC Penney with donated mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves.

■ Dec. 14 - Kidigits Penguin Party with Creative Avenues from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Sports Authority Court Area.

■ Dec. 14 - Signing Santa for hearing impaired children.

■ Until Dec. 24 - Display teaches families how NORAD tracks Santa on Christmas Eve with satellites, infrared heat from Rudolph’s nose, and high-tech Santa Cams. 

■ Until Dec. 24 - Purchase items for children registered at the Salvation Army Giving Tree located near Target.

■ Until Dec. 24 - Purchase items for seniors and adults with special needs registered at the Holiday Hope Tree located near Sears.

A national trade association for retailers predicts that more than 33 million people will start their Black Friday shopping frenzy on Thanksgiving Day, one day earlier than normal.

About 23 percent of the 140 million people expected to shop the big sales over the four-day weekend will take advantage of the early discounts, a survey by the National Federation of Retailers projects.

One reason: Many big-box stores will be open.

The reason stores will be open on the holiday is the late date on which Thanksgiving falls this year: Nov. 28. That leaves just four weeks, or 27 shopping days, until Christmas.

Normally, shoppers have five weeks before Bon Noel to buy their gifts, said Betsy Bair, a Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman.

A shorter shopping window could mean fewer sales for retailers, but the national federation expects the tally could reach $60 billion nationally, about the same amount as 2011.

“What we’re suggesting to our members and to the community is to really take advantage of those Black Friday discounts and the great sales that they’re offering as well as Small Business Saturday,” Bair said.

Small Business Saturday was started by a credit card company in 2010, said Aaron Hoffman, spokesman for Downtown Grand Junction.

American Express Card users who register their card online will get a $10 rebate from American Express when they shop at local, independent, small businesses, Hoffman said.

The event has grown bigger than American Express, however.

“It’s kind of a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and whatever you’re calling opening on Thanksgiving,” Hoffman said.

Small Business Saturday is just as important as Black Friday for small businesses, which collect between 18 percent and 40 percent of their annual revenue over the four-day weekend, Bair said, citing national studies.

Small-business revenue stays in the local economy, she said.

“For every dollar that is spent at small businesses in our economy, that turns over three times, so it generates three dollars. We love to see those dollars stay in our local economy,” Bair said.

With the exception of a few restaurants, like 66 on Rood and Main Street Bagels — open for the Turkey Trot race Thanksgiving morning — most downtown businesses will not be open until Friday, Hoffman said.

“Small-business owners are going to be at home enjoying Thanksgiving with their families, for the most part,” Hoffman said.

Friday and Saturday will be business as usual downtown, he said.

A universal gift certificate good at any downtown shop can be purchased from Downtown Grand Junction, just one of the enticements to attract shoppers.

Others include friendly service, fresh air and free parking from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, Hoffman said.

Free visits with Santa and carriage rides downtown are guaranteed to raise holiday spirits on Saturday and Sunday afternoons until Christmas Day, he said.

Meanwhile, Mesa Mall expects a high volume of shoppers for the four-day holiday weekend.

“It’s too soon to tell but we are very pleased to see so many people out and shopping. We’re already seeing lots of bags, which is a good sign,” said Chelsi Reimer, director of marketing and business development at the mall.

A non-scientific survey of Mesa Mall shoppers Tuesday found opinions split over the Thanksgiving Day store opening, usually along generational and gender lines.

“I think it’s a sacred holiday to be with family,” said Jan Frame of Cedaredge. “I think it’s awful and Macy’s started it. It’s not a good thing and I feel so sorry for the employees.”

“I feel like that’s just a day for my family and shopping can wait. I’m not usually a Black Friday shopper because it’s too crowded and people are kind of mean on that day. I don’t really want to spend my shopping trying to push through the crowds,” said Jeannette Samuels of Grand Junction.

“I stay home on Thanksgiving,” said Alberto Serrato of Grand Junction. “For some I guess it’s good, but for me personally, I would never go out shopping on Thanksgiving. To me it’s too dangerous. From what I’ve seen on the news and heard last year, people get hurt, killed even. And they run over each other. Just to save a few bucks? No.”

Audray Cosslett of Grand Junction said she is definitely going shopping with her friends on Thanksgiving, probably starting at midnight.

“I’m going to go in the middle of the night,” said Rachel Tinker, also from Grand Junction. “It’s fun. There’s a lot of people and you get to go shopping with your friends.”

“The majority of the people will be at home eating dinner, so that makes it like you will have more shopping options,” said Catherine Dolan of Grand Junction. Dolan also plans to kick off Black Friday early.

“Our holiday schedule is designed to meet our customers’ needs and reflect changing consumer behavior,” Reimer said. “Extended holiday hours provide our customers better access to all of the great deals at the mall. We invite families to come out together to shop the mall. And, as a thank you to our shoppers, we’re going to be giving out prizes throughout Thanksgiving and Black Friday.”


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