Black Friday. It's the official start to the Christmas shopping season. Major retailers open when it is yet dark, and customers brace themselves for this day-after-Thanksgiving, one-day shopping bonanza.
Those long lines, battle-weary customers and overcrowded aisles may mean black ink for the big-box stores such as Target and Wal-Mart, but it doesn't translate to much for small business owners.
Some local merchants are kicking off their seasonal sales and others are opening slightly earlier than usual. But for most, it's business as usual, and at least for one, no business at all.
At I of the Needle, a craft store that specializes in needlepoint, customers have already purchased supplies for gifts they intend to make. "As far as Christmas sales, I am selling gift certificates," said owner and operator Laurel Greenberg.
Greenberg says her store located at 2858 W. Market St. in Fairlawn will be closed on Friday. "People are in the big-box stores. They really don't come to the small stores much. So, I'm going to be closed," she said. "And I'm riding the rail on Saturday."
It's local merchants' quality service and specialties that are the bread-and-butter of holiday sales, which extend beyond the day after Thanksgiving.
Greenberg's neighboring business owner, Beverly Cromleigh, will be open for business as usual -- for a holiday season. "This is Christmas card week," Cromleigh said.
Beverly's Invitations & Stationery will not have a special promotion for Black Friday, nor will it be open for an extended time. But Cromleigh noted that business has picked up because of the holidays. "There seems to be more parties this year than last year."
While big-box stores offer slashed prices on mass-produced items of every kind, local merchants offer one-on-one attention and uniquely created gifts.
Scott Cevasco is a third-generation jeweler who owns and operates Scott's Custom Jewelers at 55 Ghent Rd. in Fairlawn. There you can expect a to buy a uniquely designed piece of jewelery with your input; something the big-box stores don't offer.
It's definitely been busier because of the holiday season. But, Cevasco says, "It's been crazy busy for the last three years.
"The service issue is driving people back to smaller businesses," Cevasco said.
Cevasco is offering a few specials for the holiday season, not just for Black Friday. Everything in the store will be 25 percent off beginning Friday through Christmas, and all bracelet beads will be buy one get one free. He is also offering a $150 gift certificate on any custom-designed piece jewelery when you make a purchase before Dec. 25.