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Red Cross Drug employee Lynda Wright works on a Yankee Candle display Monday. The store is among the downtown La Grande businesses that will be open for Small Business Saturday. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
While big box stores opened their doors Thursday night, local businesses are turning their focus to the enthusiasm of Friday and Saturday.
Bella owner Beverly Calder cringes at the words “Black Friday.”
“We still celebrate it as the day after Thanksgiving,” she says.
Her La Grande store was closed Thursday, but she does have a fun Friday planned, complete with free wine tastings. Unlike box stores, though, Calder says she doesn’t have any crazy sales or gimmicks.
“I don’t have to have an artificial sale to make friends,” she said. “It’s not about filling bags. It’s just about that enthusiasm.”
Also looking forward to an exciting shopping weekend are Jessica and Greg Bogard, owners of Looking Glass Books.
“We’re looking more forward to Small Business Saturday,” Jessica Bogard said. “It’s just a fun atmosphere.”
Small Business Saturday, started by American Express in 2010, is a marketing effort aimed at encouraging consumers to “shop small” and locally. American Express estimates shoppers spent $5.5 billion at independently owned retailers on Small Business Saturday in 2012.
The Bogards, like Calder, kept their store’s doors shut on Thursday for Thanksgiving. But following this weekend, Looking Glass will be open seven days a week through Christmas.
“We’ve tried (opening on) holidays before. There’s nothing to bring traffic downtown,” Greg Bogard said.
Another downtown merchant closes on Thanksgiving to make sure employees are off to spend time relaxing on the holiday.
“It’s really important to us that people enjoy Thanksgiving with their families,” said Deana Travis, the front-end store manager at Red Cross Drug.
Faerie Beads owner Phyllis Mueller stands next to a wing-shaped amethyst quartz geode on display at her store in downtown La Grande. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Red Cross will be open today and Saturday, with some deals to go with it. The first 50 people in the store each day will get a free gift, Travis said.
The manager said she hopes residents will see the value in shopping local this weekend.
“We have unique things — that’s something you can’t find at big box stores,” Travis said of the various candles and gift items available at the downtown retailer.
Red Cross employees and family members will participate in the La Grande Christmas parade at 6 p.m. tonight.
“We’re all geared up for Christmas,” Travis said.
Even smaller retailers, like La Grande’s Faerie Beads, are bringing in some special items for the holiday season. Owner Phyllis Mueller has brought in amethyst quartz for those who make jewelry or perhaps collect the stones.
“They’re feel-good stones, that’s what I call them,” she said. “That’s a special I’m bringing in for the Christmas season.”
Faerie Beads, too, will be open seven days a week through the holidays.
More than ringing registers, downtown merchants are looking forward to the foot traffic and excitement that comes with the Christmas parade and holiday season.
“It’s not about driving sales,” said Bella’s Calder. “I’m a Main Street merchant. To me that means I’m part of the community.”