Let's Talk About... Black Friday

We've been doing Black Friday for a few years now... Way back when (maybe 9 years or so ago) we thought about doing Black Friday as a way to clear out inventory. At that time we made the decision to open at 6 am because, well... Everyone was opening at 6 am. The big chain stores, the mom and pop shops, we all opened at 6 am the day after Thanksgiving. The only ones open earlier than that were the coffee shops. Ya know, to fuel the poor saps who had to work and to make sure the crazed shopper had enough caffeine to throw an elbow or trip someone to make sure they got the best deals possible on the toys their kids wanted.  

But at Fabric Mart it was a bit different in those early days. We decided we would try it. We had inventory left over, we needed to clear stuff out and  everyone else was doing it, why not us? We posted it up in the store, we sent out postcards and we planned. We figured we would need a separate cutting area.We wouldn't be able to handle all the cutting and the cashiering and everything all at one table. But how would we get people in the store at 6am? Why would anyone want to be at Fabric Mart at 6am? We figured if we offered varying discounts and offer the better ones earlier we might be able to get people to come in before they went to hit the big box stores. Or maybe people who don't usually shop on Black Friday might come in to get stuff. We thought if we offered everything at 40% off at 6am, people just might come in. But we had another challenge- If people came in at 6am and then they got their fabric cut and then they had to pay for it, what if it was so busy they couldn't get to the register before the discount changed? How could we guarantee that people would get 40% off if they came in at 6am and then it took awhile for us to get the fabric cut and then it took a little while longer for us to get their receipt done? It would be our fault that they didn't get their discount and that's just not fair. So we thought about different ways to do it and finally we settled on stamping peoples hands. That way when they came in the door no matter how long it took us to get them out they still got their discount. Different colors would determine what time they came in and that would ultimately decide the discount they received when they paid.  

Once the big day arrived, we were all there about 5:30 in the morning waiting to see if anyone would show up. I stood there in the front, waiting, hoping that people would show up. Fabric Mart had never done anything like this before so we didn't know if all this work would pay off. If all those meetings and arguments would amount to anything... By 5:45 am, people were lining up at the door. We scrambled to make sure everything was in place. That everyone was where they needed to be and that we were ready. By 8am we had seen dozens of people come and go, purchasing fabric, picking stuff out, excited to come out and get a great deal on fabrics they loved. It was a success!!!! But we had one problem- By 8 am the store was empty. The discount structure we had come up with was 6-7 am was 40% off, 7-8 am was 30% off, 9-10 am was 20% off and from 10 am to 5 pm was only 10% off. The early deals were good enough to bring people in but the later deals, not so much. 

So the following year (now knowing a few things we hadn't before) we decided to extend the savings and what you see now is the product of that first year: 6-8 am is 40% off, 8-10am is 30% off and 10am - 5 pm is 20% off.  

But here's what make Black Friday a little different at Fabric Mart- We no longer use the stamps we did those first years, now we use tokens. You're handed a token when you come in the door and you can take as long as you like to shop, pick fabrics, get notions, chit chat with your friends, get a cup of coffee and some doughnuts from the back... Whatever it is you want to do. And you can relax knowing that you'll get the discount you're entitled to from when  you walked in the store. No rush. No pushing, no yelling. Just a really good time. Everyone talks about their Thanksgiving dinner, the kids and their plans for the rest of the holidays. You can choose fabrics, we cut them and hold them for you... You can take as long as you like. And every now and then one of us gets a break to join you for a cup of coffee.  

It has really turned into a nice tradition that we look forward to sharing with you every year. It has become more about the camaraderie, watching the sun rise over town as we get your stuff together for you and sharing in the joy of the season.  

I remember it was the second or third year we were doing the sale and we had the radio on. We were listening to traffic reports and details about what was going on elsewhere in the world- Woodbury Commons had decided that year to open at 4 am (I'm sure there were a bunch of other stores that had done it that year as well.) and we talked with the customers about opening even earlier and keeping up with the trend... But then everyone started joking about what would be next.... Would stores start opening on Thanksgiving???? We chuckled and laughed like that could never in a million years happen. We couldn't imagine any one who would go shopping on Thanksgiving and what store would force the employees to work on a holiday like that! Fast forward a few years and that is exactly what happened.  

We would like to see you home with your families on Thanksgiving; we will be home with ours. But we would also like to share the tradition of Black Friday with you at Fabric Mart.