PORT ANGELES — Retailers in Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks had turkey on their mind Wednesday but today and Saturday on their calendars.
They were banking on shoppers streaming through their stores today on what is known as Black Friday, the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving shopping splurge.
Small Business Saturday beckons a day later, a nationwide retail experience illuminated at 1:15 p.m. at Sequim Centennial Place at the corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue and at 3:30 that afternoon at Port Angeles’ Laurel Street fountain in tree-lighting ceremonies.
Store owners in Clallam County were decorating the red carpet with discounts and promotions galore and downplaying internet-sales-driven Cyber Monday, set to occur Monday, in emphasizing the importance of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.
“It’s absolutely still the traditional kickoff,” Don Droz, Port Angeles’ Swain’s General Store manager and lifelong city resident, said Tuesday of Black Friday.
“It’s our big get-ready.”
According to a survey by Deloitte — an auditing, consulting, advisory and tax services company — three-quarters of Americans plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend.
But this year is the first time the prediction of online sales has overtaken that for on-the-ground retailers.
Deloitte said shoppers will spend 51 percent of their budgets online compared with 42 percent in stores. Fifty-five percent of respondents will shop online for gifts compared to 44 percent who will shop in stores, increasing online shopping’s lead over mass merchants, according to the survey.
That hasn’t stopped Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks entrepreneurs from doing their best to attract customers.
In Port Angeles, businesses are replete with Black Friday specials.
Swain’s General Store will open today with one-day-only expanded hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and floor space full and ready to be picked clean.
“The fullest you’ll see Swain’s is now,” Droz said. “In general, this is the heaviest inventory of the year you’ll see, for sure.”
Black Friday-only specials will include Swain’s gift cards on sale for 20 percent off and $15 off purchases of $75 or more with a coupon.
“All kinds of promotions are going on,” said Marc Abshire, executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, whose more than 420 members include Sequim, Forks and Port Angeles businesses.
“I don’t see any change in the growth of the popularity of Black Friday, especially among the big-box stores,” he said.
But small towns are especially urging shoppers to frequent small retailers on Small Business Saturday.
“It’s important for our local economy for us to support the small businesses in our counties,” Abshire said.
“We are much more bullish about Small Business Saturday than we are about Big-Box Friday.”
The Port Angeles Downtown Association promotes Small Business Saturday, Richard Stephens, Port Angeles Downtown Association office manager, said Wednesday.
American Express offers doormats and signs to advertise the nationwide event, he said.
In 2016, an estimated 112 million consumers reported shopping at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, marking a 13 percent increase from 2015, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey.
Stephens said the shop-local entreaty still holds sway among downtown Port Angeles businesses.
“Some things are easy and convenient to buy online, but a lot of stores downtown have very specialized services,” he said.
Buying a backpack at Brown’s Outdoor sporting goods in person, for example, is wiser than buying one online because the store staff can properly fit you, he said.
“That’s the difference between buying something online and the expertise and everything you get when shopping locally,” Stephens said. “A lot of people get that.”
More Port Angeles stores are establishing an internet presence that allows them to sell both in-store and online so customers can find them and stores can cover all their bases, Stephens said.
“You can’t throw up your hands and cry about it,” he said. “You have to embrace it and leverage it for your business.”
Smaller Sequim retailers seem focused on promoting the shopping local concept.
Vickie Oen, general manager of Purple Haze Lavender, 127 W. Washington St., said Sequim’s demographic doesn’t necessarily fit the fervent Black Friday shopper.
“We live in a retirement community. They don’t want to be up at a storefront at 3 a.m.,” she said.
Oen and several other Sequim businesses, big and small, have extended their hours for the weekend and some through Christmas.
Purple Haze Lavender is staying open until 6 p.m. today through Sunday and offering sale prices through the weekend.
Oen said the store has seen an increase over recent Thanksgiving weekends in sales and she’s seen more of a push for Small Business Saturday through national advertising, too.
Susan Baritelle, owner of Dungeness Kids Co., 163 W. Washington St., says this weekend is one of her better sale weekends of the year.
“It means a lot to me to see the people who come out on Small Business Saturday are supporting local businesses,” she said.
To keep that momentum, Baritelle said she’s offering weekly deals through the business’ Facebook account.
Rick Williams, owner of R&T Crystals, 158 Bell St., said he’s trying a 15 percent off sale most items today and Saturday to bring in more business.
“I don’t normally offer sales at this much. Fifteen percent is a lot for a small business, especially if it’s a larger item,” he said. “I try to take care of my customers though.”
When he has sales, Williams said, he has a lot of regulars who frequent his business, but Thanksgiving weekend is “just giving my customers a chance to purchase gifts at a better price.”
Retail sales in Sequim have gone up in recent years for the holidays. The city of Sequim reports its portion of retail tax sales went up from $121,474 and $144,925 in November and December 2012 to $144,704 and $172,703 in November and December 2016.
Forks’ legendary rain has not dampened end-of-year shopping in the West End town.
Retail sales in Forks increased from $4.4 million in November 2015 to $5 million in November 2016. And they increased from $3 million in December 2015 to $3.6 million in 2016.
“It’s always nice to go and check out the local shops,” City Attorney-Planner Rod Fleck said Wednesday.
“Many times, you find a bargain there, something that’s special, especially something that’s handmade and whatnot, that you can’t find online.”
Fleck said Forks-area retailers also bank on retail traffic during Moonlight Madness, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 2, sponsored by the West End Business & Professional Association, which begins after the Twinkle Light Parade.
Shopping on Black Friday, and during the entire weekend, becomes a social affair at Forks Outfitters while shoppers seek bargains that will include 15 percent off clothing and shoes, and 15 percent off rods, reels, combinations of rods and reels.
“The whole weekend is pretty strong,” owner Bruce Paul said Wednesday. “They go out and go shopping and visit with people.
“We’re a community store, and people come to see the community at the store. It will be a fun day, and we’ll have fun doing it.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].