Local retailers are preparing for two of the biggest shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Tim Harris, the executive director of Fort Payne Main Street, reminds readers they should try to shop locally whenever possible.

“Shopping our local downtown merchants will be better than ever this holiday season,” said Tim Harris, executive director of Fort Payne Main Street. “The art scene is exploding. We have new merchants like Untamed Gallery, offering wildlife and local scenery photography. It is located next to The Spot, who features local artists. They join galleries like Katherine's, representing Cal Breed, among others, of Orbix Glass. Boom Town Makers Market anchors the downtown art scene on the other end of the block, across from the Alabama Band statues, representing nearly 100 local artists. For sports, music and local memorabilia, a visit to Tony Walls, Relics, is a trip down memory lane, and a great place to find eclectic gifts. Shoppers can also add a new restaurant to their downtown dining experience, when F.C. Weiss Pub and Eatery opens the first week of December, joining favorites like Fontana's, Vintage, Roadside Que and The Strand.”

He reminded the community that Christmas lights and festive events will make downtown a great experience for shopping this December.

“Fort Payne Main Street has so much to offer,” Harris said.

Of course, the big brand discount stores like Walmart, Dollar General, Goody's, Big Lots, Walgreens, and others will offer Black Friday deals to lure shoppers looking for bargains the day after Thanksgiving. Many of those offers are also available on these stores’ websites.

For a decade, American Express has also promoted Small Business Saturday, which falls on Nov. 30 this year. The campaign is noteworthy because for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. The campaign uses the slogan “Shop Small” to remind consumers that smaller stores in historic downtown areas can offer a more intimate experience and unique finds.

Jennifer McCurdy, executive director of the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce, said the real start of the holiday shopping season kicked off earlier this month with coordinated Open House events.

“That went great, and we’ve received reports that sales are up this year,” she said. “The Chamber encourages everyone to shop with our member businesses first before resorting to online searches. One advantage to doing so is knowing that the store is a legitimate business rather than a scam.”

The Times-Journal called several local retailers to get a sense of what Black Friday and Small Business Saturday will bring.

Bob Hammer of Hammer's said the store experienced its biggest day since opening last Black Friday and he hopes to surpass that day's sales with special offers on boots, jeans, sweaters, and more.

“We will be having Black Friday deals, pretty good offers,” said Misty Bruce, owner of the Pink Door Boutique. She encouraged shoppers to visit the store’s social media pages for details closer to the event.

Fort Payne Footworks & Outdoors manager Jill Keneer said that store will be open regular hours offering 20 to 40 percent off select items. She said Berrystreet Boots are expected to sell well this season.

Traci Rigdon, owner of Traci’s, plans to add some fun and suspense by having shoppers use a Plinko game board to determine how much they get off on a purchase on Black Friday. “We’ll be offering between 20 to 50 percent off on select items,” she said, adding that the hot item this year is children’s toys from the Melissa & Doug brand.

Generally, local retailers we contacted feel upbeat about the prospects for a profitable fourth quarter and look forward to helping “Santa” find just what friends and family want.

To learn more about these and other great deals to start your holiday shopping spree, visit their social media pages and look for their advertising in upcoming editions of the Times-Journal.

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