Holiday rush

Staff photo by Jade McDowell. Darlene Clark, left, Wyatt Johnson, Randy Smith and Carla Hoyt of Smitty's Ace Hardware in Hermiston stand under a banner at the store proclaiming Small Business Saturday.

After the pie is eaten and the turkey leftovers are in the refrigerator, a different holiday tradition begins: the biggest shopping season of the year.

Over the past decade, Black Friday has been joined by Thanksgiving Day sales, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This year retailers including Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy were offering “early Black Friday” sales before Thanksgiving week even began.

Randy Smith, who owns Smitty’s Ace Hardware and Smitty’s Outpost in Hermiston with his wife Tammy, said the morning of Black Friday itself has taken on less significance in recent years as sales have been spread out over November and December.

“It’s taking a different form,” he said. “The urgency isn’t what it once was, but the deals are as good as ever.”

Ace Hardware has been running early “Black Friday” deals, but Smith said there will still be limited-time offers at the Outpost on Friday morning at 7 a.m.

He said diluting the holiday shopping rush has pros and cons for retailers.

“There’s not as much pressure, but it was also exciting and different, and the drama was kind of fun to manage,” he said.

The Smiths are third-generation owners of the business, which started in 1948 — predating the Black Friday craze. The phrase “Black Friday” as it pertained to post-Thanksgiving shopping was popularized in Philadelphia in the 1960s, by police in the city who dreaded trying to manage crowds of holiday shoppers coming in to the city. By the 1980s it had spread nationwide, and retailers had come up with a more positive connotation for the name by noting that the profits from holiday shopping put them “in the black” financially for the year.

While retailers of all sizes often offer deals the weekend after Thanksgiving, small businesses have been getting an extra focus over the past few years as Small Business Saturday has caught on.

Goss Family Jewlers, located on Main Street, is one of the small businesses participating in Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, with 20 percent off jewelry. James Goss said he doesn’t usually see a big rush the weekend after Thanksgiving, because people tend to be traveling out of town for the four-day weekend.

“We get a few, but I think people go up to the Tri-Cities,” he said.

But because he does custom work, overall he does see an increase around the holidays from people who are interested in a unique gift for their loved ones. Elk ivory jewelry is especially popular, he said.

Debbie Pedro, director of the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce, said several local business are participating in Small Business Saturday this year. She said people should be able to find out about plenty of great deals by checking out local business’s Facebook pages and radio and newspaper advertisements.

“It’s really exciting to see each one of our businesses really participate,” she said.

Pedro put in a plug for shopping local year-round, but particularly during the holiday season. It’s an opportunity for people to support their friends and neighbors, she said, and make sure that money continues to circulate throughout the community. Local big box stores offer deals on big-ticket items, while smaller businesses offer unique Christmas presents not found in other cities.

“There is an opportunity to buy just about anything you need right here in Hermiston,” she said.

Hermiston will have even more shopping options once the long-awaited Ranch & Home opens on South Highway 395. A manager at the Hermiston store confirmed on Monday the business is planning to open in Mid-December, and job listings are prominently displayed on its website.

While Pedro and local businesses encourage keeping the Christmas shopping local, in recent years Cyber Monday the week after Thanksgiving has offered online deals for what people can’t find locally. That money may not be directly recycled into the local economy, but the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, employs a significant number of people locally via its data centers.

Reporter

East Oregonian and Hermiston Herald reporter covering city government and economic development in Hermiston, Umatilla, Stanfield and Echo.

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