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MailTribune.com
  • Black Friday

    Retail stores try to make the most of the biggest shopping day of the year
  • If past experience is any indicator, shoppers will line up en masse when Red's Threads in Ashland and Real Deals Home Decor in Medford open their doors on Black Friday.
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  • If past experience is any indicator, shoppers will line up en masse when Red's Threads in Ashland and Real Deals Home Decor in Medford open their doors on Black Friday.
    They might not be able to replicate the big-box throngs queued up to rush the doors at 5 a.m., but local shop owners around the Rogue Valley have found a way to entice customers on the shopping day that historically moves retailers into profitable territory.
    Red's Threads on Main Street in Ashland has ushered in the Holiday season with its Time Sale for more than a decade.
    "The first hour everything is 80 percent off, then it goes to 70 percent off the next hour, the 60 percent and so on," says Alisa Sherman.
    The Ashland clothing boutique opens for business at 10 a.m., offering women's clothing, men's shirts and jewelry to catch the sea of people who gather for shopping during the day and the evening parade and lighting activities that follow.
    "There are 100 times more people that come in than normal," Sherman says.
    This might be the first Christmas for Real Deals Home Decor on Parson Drive in northwest Medford, but based on the results of a similar open house, owner Brandi Williamson is counting on a big rush when her doors open.
    "I'm positive they will be lining up," Williamson says. "We did an open house a couple of weeks ago and people were lined up around the (neighboring) tile store and down to the road. I guarantee they'll be lined up again on Friday."
    Williamson has sent out postcards and e-mails to her customers, with the first 25 people through the door receiving a gift card. Just like the big boys, Real Deals has a special deal, selling 100-hour candles for $3.99.
    "We want to be involved in the craziness," she says.
    Real Deals generally operates just two days a week — Thursday and Saturday. But with Thanksgiving falling on Thursday, it's a natural to open on Friday.
    "We work full time, rearranging and moving items to get ready for those two days," Williamson says.
    The shop has six fully-decorated artificial Christmas trees for sale, cloth lamps, metal decorations, furniture and art work.
    "Right now about a quarter of our store has holiday items," she says.
    After hitting the big retailers, customers tend to filter out into other shopping districts.
    At Jacksonville Mercantile on California Street, owner David Jesser eschews the discounting hype associated with Black Friday.
    "We'll have free wine tasting here," Jesser says. "Unlike the big-box retailers we offer a quality experience for people, not a wide variety of discounts or things of that nature."
    Crowds swell, but tend to mosey, rather than elbow their way to and fro.
    "There is no rush to get through the door," Jesser says. "Everybody is moving slower. There are a lot more people on the street. It's a real good day for retailers and one of biggest economic drivers in our country; we're blessed that it occurs here in Jacksonville as well."
    By convention, he says, Jacksonville merchants extend business hours to 7:30 or 8 p.m. through the holidays.
    "We create a value-added experience, like free goodies," Jesser says.
    Downtown Medford, which competed for the Christmas shopper with Medford Center until the Rogue Valley Mall opened in 1986, still has an array of shops attracting a steady flow of clients.
    "We have three or four times the normal amount of customers all day long," says Kreg Buschman of Suzanne's Gift Garden Home.
    Like other merchants, Suzanne's depends heavily on its mailing list to attract shoppers to its two-day holiday open house.
    "It's our busiest day of the year with twice as many people as our second-best, the day after Christmas," Buschman says.
    The home-furnishings and accents store mailed out 500 invitations for its cider and cookies approach.
    "They're not usually lined up when we open at 10," Buschman says. "But depending on the year, they start trickling in after they've gone to the other store with sales. We try to keep it casual here."
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.
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