For 12 years, Kathy Edwards has decked out her jewelry store for her busiest day of the holiday season — Black Friday.
Every year, a handful of regulars stop by her store, The Cadillac Cowgirl, the day after Thanksgiving, she said. They’ve come to expect the Black Friday deals and like to check in with Edwards’ children, who have worked in the store off and on for years, she said.
“It’s more than just shopping, it’s catching up with your neighbors,” she said. “It’s an experience.”
Although Black Friday shopping was popularized by corporate retailers, small businesses in Casper have taken advantage of the national trend to attract customers. But unlike customers at larger stores who have to wait in lines and fight through crowds to do their shopping, shoppers in Casper experience a Black Friday that’s a more low-key family affair. Many stores are also expanding their Black Friday deals into the following Saturday.
An increasing number of local businesses have been participating in Black Friday sales and Small Business Saturday, said Gilda Lara, executive director of the Casper Chamber of Commerce. The holiday season is a key time for small businesses to make money, she said, and Black Friday sales set the tone for the season.
Mike Stepp, owner of Donells Candies, said Black Friday is the big kickoff for the store’s holiday season, which is especially important after a few years of sluggish sales.
“They call it Black Friday because that’s when you finally start to break into the black” and make a profit, Stepp said.
The amount of product sold that day often predicts how sales will be through the holiday season, he said, though sometimes bad weather keeps people home.
Some more specialized stores, like Wyoming Camera Outfitters, have a more difficult time creating Black Friday sales, especially when operating on an already slim profit margin.
Owner William “Dinty” Miller said the camera store is always competing with internet prices. Instead of setting its own Black Friday discounts, the store passes on the Black Friday deals from the camera companies, like Canon.
Business has been pretty steady despite Casper’s most recent economic downturn because the store has a regional customer base, but the expected Black Friday bump is always welcome.
“It’s important to support your local economies,” he said. “The internet is the internet, and it’s its own monster, but the internet can’t do a lot of the things we can.”
Local, family-owned businesses are important to creating a sense of community in Casper, the business owners said. The mixture of businesses downtown makes sure there’s shopping to be done for every member of the family, Edwards said.
“To me it’s a thing to do, not a chore,” she said. “It’s not like sitting outside the big box store at 4 a.m. It’s fun, and you can do it with your family.”