Black Friday extreme campers

It’s a tradition renewed, as a group of seven local men pitch their tent — actually, a converted canopy for cars — outside Best Buy in Fultondale in preparation for Black Friday. It’s the eighth year for the group, who now have corporate sponsors for their week-long campout.

Local small business owners are anticipating a pickup in shoppers on Black Friday, but they are not expecting the hectic crowds that will be found at big retail businesses.

Even though they do not count on Black Friday to actually put their businesses “in the black,” as the term suggests, local merchants encourage people to shop locally.

“Black Friday is definitely a day the gift items start to pick up,” said Michele Swader, who owns Roo’s Place in Mt. Olive along with Michelle Crosthwait. “It’s a kickoff day for our holiday shoppers for sure.”

Swader said the business will have live Christmas trees, wreaths and garland available on Black Friday, along with a sale inside the shop. “We have to get people ready for the holidays,” she said.

Gail Chambers at Dreams Avenue in Morris said everything in her shop will be 50-percent off on Friday, with four exceptions: Elf on the Shelf and Hobo, Milanka and Anuschka items.

“Shop at home,” said Chambers, who owns the shop with her daughter Penny Chambers. This is the first year they have hosted a Black Friday sale.

Debbie Ragland owns Outfitters in Warrior with her husband Mike Ragland. She said their business did have a Black Friday sale last year, and “it was a good day.”

On Friday, Outfitters has Crocs at half price in addition to a 10-percent discount storewide on full-priced items.

Another small business owner, Donna Upton at Countless Treasures in Gardendale, said her store tries to keep prices low year-round, so she said she can’t lower them much for Black Friday.

However, she hopes customers will take advantage of her store’s monogramming and heat press vinyl for the holidays.

When it comes to Black Friday, big box stores are another matter entirely; they have been preparing for the shopping day for weeks.

One of the biggest, Wal-Mart, is stretching out Black Friday sales for a week: Nov. 21-27.

“The retail environment is incredibly competitive and we know that our customers are looking to us for the lowest prices and great deals all season long,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer for Wal-Mart in the United States.

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