This past week has seen Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
But, for some local businesses, this Friday is all about an evening of shopping in downtown Waupaca.
“Downtown – Right Here for You” is the theme of the Dec. 3 event during which a number of stores will be open for extended hours – until 8 p.m.
From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. that night, shoppers will be able to pick up a punch card at any one of the participating businesses.
The punch card can only be picked up that day and is good only for the evening, said Jane Haasch, of the Waupaca Community Arts Center.
Those who visit each participating business from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and get their card punched will be entered into a drawing for a basket filled with items or gift certificates from all of the businesses that are part of the evening of shopping.
The idea to have such a night began after Book World Manager Maria Miskinis received a phone call from the company’s regional manager.
Her regional manager told her that Book World wanted to have customer appreciation nights at each of its stores in early December and that the night could be tied into other events taking place in communities.
Miskinis talked to Anita Olson, who owns Embellishments right next door, and to those involved with the Waupaca Community Arts Center across the street.
A meeting was set up.
“It went from there,” Miskinis said.
Olson said, “I think people are really understanding that it’s good to do things together. We all contributed to a big basket. It’s getting people to shop here, getting people to know that the retailers all care about each other and want to work together.”
Those who shop here will be supporting a local economy.
For some, it may be the opportunity to visit stores they cannot get to during regular store hours.
“We know there’s a lot of people who work full time, and they can never get to our stores because we close at the end of the day,” she said.
Friday night, those people can shop during extended store hours.
Olson said some businesses have started staying open later on Fridays, until 6 p.m., and that this week’s event is a special one.
Across the street, at the community arts center, Haasch said the idea is to get people to shop locally.
“We get a lot of out-of-town people,” she said.
Haasch said they want local residents to realize there are wonderful artists in the community and that they can give someone a gift made by a local artist – maybe by someone they actually know.
On the other end of Main Street is Panache, owned by Debbie Fisher.
In business for over eight years, she sees Friday night as a fun evening in which people can browse the many downtown businesses.
She and other business owners said there has already been a lot of foot traffic on Main Street.
“Weekends have been busy – a lot of families or day trippers,” Fisher said while working on Black Friday.
She said local businesses offer different things than what one sees at the typical shopping mall.
Customers will also find more personalized service and free gift wrapping.
Olson, too, said things have been busy.
On Saturday, Nov. 20, which was the first day of the gun deer hunting season, Embellishments had four times the sales than it had on a typical Saturday.
“It was my best Saturday of the year. It was unbelievable. I had five people working all day,” she said.
Olson said local business owners get to know their customers.
“I think our prices are competitive. We know we have to be competitive,” she said.
And, Olson is happy to direct people who stop at her store to other downtown businesses. She tells those who “have any little people in their life” where they can shop for books for children.
“If people are looking at art, I send them that direction,” Olson said, motioning to the art block across the street. “If someone yawns, I send them for coffee.”
Plans call for some businesses to have music or refreshments during Friday’s evening of shopping. Others will offer specials.
Book World will offer discounts from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and might have a book signing.
At Panache, there will be a small Christmas tree where customers will be able to pick up their discount.
Those who were shopping in downtown Waupaca on Black Friday were impressed.
Ann Marie Markon, of Milwaukee, said she comes to Waupaca for Thanksgiving and always spends the next day walking downtown and shopping.
Aaron and Amy Cieslicki, of Oconomowoc, described Waupaca’s Main Street as “amazingly vibrant,” and said they always look forward to visiting the downtown when they are here visiting family.
Fisher enjoys being a downtown business owner.
“I just like downtowns and the small towns, and being able to walk on Main Street,” she said.
This Friday night, many will be able to enjoy the sights of Waupaca’s downtown.
“Hopefully, it will be something that we’ll be able to do every year,” Miskinis said.