The term “Black Friday” has long been used to describe the ritual which has developed of shoppers crowding stores to find the best bargains for Christmas.
Internet usage has now made the term almost obsolete as many of the major chains now have online shopping and began posting “Black Friday” sales long before the actual date.
Both of the major retail chains in Cleveland, Walmart and Target, will be open for the occasion.
Walmart is already open 24 hours a day and Target will be open for 28 straight hours beginning at 8 o’clock Thanksgiving night.
While those stores among others offer a wide variety of items to choose from, local businesses want area residents to know they can be as helpful as those stores when doing holiday shopping.
Saturday will be observed as “Shop Locally” nationally in an effort to help boost those small businesses that may go unnoticed as customers travel up and down the roads.
“The Bradley County area is fortunate to have available such a wide variety of stores and shops that are owned and operated by Bradley Countians,” said Aaron Weatherford, membership director of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
In order to help promote customers patronizing local merchants, the Chamber is starting a “Hot Deals for the Holidays” campaign.
Through the Chamber’s website, local businesses can advertise their specials, many of which Weatherford says will extend past the “Black Friday” weekend.
Shoppers can go on the website and hit the “hot deals” button to find those shops and bargains.
Nancy Casson, former chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and the proprietor of Red Ribbon, says distance and bargains are not the only reasons to shop locally.
“We’d love for everybody to quit going to Chattanooga and supporting their school system,” [over local ones] Casson said.
She said people need to know that the first half of all sales taxes paid when shopping at a local business in Bradley County and Cleveland goes to education.
Casson also cited statistics that show for every $100 spent in independently owned businesses, $68 returns to the local economy.
“If you spend it at a big store chain only $43 stays behind and if you shop online nothing stays,” she said. “Shopping locally strengthens the local economy, keeps our community unique and provides jobs.
“The small businesses support the community 50 percent more than the major chains,” Casson added.
She said local businesses offer more personalized services, they invest in the community and there is a broader range of products.
“It isn’t a stretch to say when you shop with a local business, you are doing business with a neighbor,” Casson said. “These are people either you know, or someone you know knows. It’s a much more familiar and comfortable feeling.”
She said small businesses are the “heart of America, and that’s what’s driven America for years.”
Casson said many of small businesses go unnoticed because they do not have the means to advertise with the volume of a major retail chain.
“I’d suggest this weekend people think about three local small businesses they’d miss if they closed and pick up something,” Casson said. “It might help to ensure they stay around. There just isn’t any need to go to Chattanooga.”