Area businesses had their own versions of Black Friday, and none of them involved opening their doors at midnight.
“Today, I opened at 8 just for fun,” said Tim Drake as the lunch hour arrived at Lucky Tree in downtown Waupaca.
It was his first experience being on the retail side of Black Friday.
He and his wife Michele opened the store last spring.
“It’s been crazy,” Drake said of their Black Friday traffic. “The customers have been from all over today – from Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota. They’re coming in with their families.”
Last weekend marked the second of three weekends that “Classic Christmas Waupaca, King & in Between” was held.
This year, the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce and Retailer’s Roundtable are working together to bring Classic Christmas to the area.
“So far, the feedback has been positive,” said Jeff Anderson, who is the Chamber’s tourism director.
This upcoming weekend is the final Classic Christmas weekend, with participating businesses again offering such things as extended hours, sales and special events.
As part of its campaign, Retailers Roundtable sent a direct mail advertising piece to every door in Waupaca and King. The group also ran large, full color ads in the County Post and the Buyer’s Guide to promote the area as a holiday shopping destination.
Retailers Roundtable is made up of businessowners from Waupaca and King who meet to discuss common topics.
Anita Olson, owner of Embellishments in downtown Waupaca and a member of the group, said, “People are thrilled with the handout we did together. We have people coming in with it cut apart for the coupons. People like how it looked. I think we retailers will consider it another time.”
The Chamber used tourism dollars to send postcards to zipcodes within a 50-mile radius of Waupaca and has heard a number of people have been shopping in the area who had indeed received that postcard.
Olson said the first weekend of Classic Christmas was a good one. It coincided with the opening of Wisconsin’s gun deer hunting season.
“Last Friday (Nov. 18), we were open until 7 p.m. It was slow,” she said, “but it is something new we are trying. It is our job to sell a new thing.”
This past Friday, Lucky Tree was not the only store that opened a bit earlier than usual.
In King, both Cate & Company and Cinnamon House also opened at 8 a.m.
Christine Abbott, who owns Cate & Company, had customers waiting for her to open, while Cinnamon House owner Mona Smith had her first five arrive minutes after 8 a.m.
Smith offered two different discounts during the first two hours of the day. “That helped get people in early,” she said.
Most of her customers purchased Christmas items.
“I think it was worth it. I will do it again,” Smith said of the 8 a.m. Black Friday opening.
Abbott said that while small businesses can never compete with the big chain stores, they can offer something for those who love a unique shopping experience.
“A lot of people are home visiting family for Thanksgiving,” Abbott said of the people she was seeing on Black Friday.
Her customers were buying Christmas items, clothing and, because of the warmer temperatures that day, even some things for the garden.
“I love that we’re all participating. It’s nice to know what everybody is doing,” she said of Retailers Roundtable. “I think we’re all better individually if we’re working together. If we’re a good shopping destination, people will come from Green Bay, Wausau, Appleton.”
Shopping at Main Street Marketplace was Bev Walker, of Wautoma.
She and her sisters visit Waupaca in the summer, and since Walker was in town Friday to do her banking, she decided to do some browsing.
Walker is not a fan of Black Fridays and found the music in Main Street Marketplace to be nice.
Bernadette Pegorsch and her husband Kent have owned the business in downtown Waupaca for 24 years.
Their holiday open house was held on Nov. 12. The following Saturday was among their best days, and last Friday, customers were waiting outside the door at 9 a.m.
Pegorsch anticipated the next day to be even busier, saying that Saturday is always be biggest of that shopping weekend.
Popular items this year at her store are texting gloves, scarves that are as soft as a teddy bear and Christmas Kissing Krystal.
Ornaments and their homemade fudge are always big sellers, and she has noticed that people are responding to items that are either “Made in the U.S.A.” or “Made in Wisconsin.”
Also out and about last Friday were Shirlene Parsons, of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and Deanna Samster, of Pewaukee.
They were familiar with area shops.
“My favorite,” Parsons said, “is Dragonwings for buying for the grandkids.”
Making a purchase at Dragonwings early last Friday afternoon was Jackie Handrich, of Waupaca.
“This is the last stop,” she said.
Handrich had headed west around midnight to shop at Shopko, Target and Wal-Mart in Plover and Stevens Point. She was back in Waupaca around 5 a.m., waiting in Fleet Farm’s parking lot for its 6 a.m. opening.
As she bought a gift for her nephew at Dragonwings, she said. “We love this store. I used my coupon (from the Retailers Roundtable mailing).”
Joanne Kennedy is a sales associate at the store, and she said store traffic was steady.
Judy Christensen and her husband John Mc Donnell, of Beloit, were among her customers.
Christensen was raised here, and the couple has a place on Otter Drive.
“This is our favorite place,” Christensen said. “I’m on my way to Embellishments.”
At Embellishments, Olson said her customers were buying a variety of things.
“I noticed families are shopping together. The extended holiday is used as extended family time. That’s what is nice about it,” she said.
Her customers last weekend included Jeannie Brendel, of Brookfield, who has a home on Long Lake.
Brendel was shopping with family. “I’m with my daughter and sister-in-law. They love to shop at Cate & Company, the Feminine Touch and Panache. We love to come here for the unique items.”
Their shopping party included 13-year-old Mitchell Selas, of Hartland, and 17-year-old Spencer Selas, of Brookfield, who are cousins.
“I was looking for something to do,” said Mitchell, who was shopping in Waupaca for the first time. “It’s nice. It’s quiet.”
Spencer likes the wall of magazines at Book World and the old-fashioned sodas and fudge at Main Street Marketplace. They also visited Acme Sports Company.
“There’s not so many people,” he said of the small-town shopping experience. “It’s less crowded. There’s unique stores. The people at the stores are very nice. They welcome you into their stores.”
Back at Lucky Tree, Drake said popular sellers thus far have been ornaments, puzzles, umbrellas and dancing flowers.
“We had to reorder them,” he said of the dancing flowers. “They were gone in a heartbeat.”