From the AT Staff: Dreaming of a black Christmas

With the calendar page turned to December, Thanksgiving has come and gone – along with Black Friday.

Most of you know the reason they call the busiest shopping day of the year Black Friday is because it is considered the day retailers begin operating in the black (turning a profit) and, if the season goes well, will finish the year with financial books in the black.

This year, the black also symbolized death. When I heard the news story about the temporary store worker who was trampled to death by an overzealous crowd of shoppers, I was shocked. But not completely surprised. Sometimes people can be desperate for deals – no matter what it takes.

I personally don’t shop on Black Friday if I can avoid it. Oh, I consider it. I page through all the circulars to see what’s on sale, then ask myself, “Is there anything I can’t live without? That I’d fight the crowds for? Is this deal sooooo good it is worth setting the alarm for 2 a.m. so I can be in line somewhere by 3 a.m. for a 4 o’clock opening?” Pretty much without exception, the answer is no.

A friend of mine said he had wonderful shopping experience this year on Black Friday. That’s because he was hitting antiques shops instead of the big box retailers. “No crowds to fight there,” he said. Then we both realized that while it was good news for him and his bargain shopping mission, empty antiques stores are never a good sign.

Antique Trader would like to know what you shop and mall owners are doing to attract shoppers this holiday season? How can we as an industry convince people that purchasing an antique for themselves or as a gift is a far better investment than buying a silly gadget that could break by the time the Easter bunny comes hopping around?

Perhaps instead of focusing on offering the best deals, we should offer the experience. We have something those chain stores don’t have. We have history. We have nostalgia. Who doesn’t like to step back in time and remember Christmases past? Have you found a way to offer that this holiday season?

Please share your ideas via email at robyn.austin@fwmedia.com or comment in the Talkin’ Shop message board on our Web site. Let’s do what we can to help each other finish the year in the black.

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