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Downtown, Old Town offer less stressful Black Friday shopping alternative

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Got a yen to shop on Black Friday, but want to avoid long lines and parking lot hassles? think Downtown and Old Town Auburn. Although Black Friday is known for its rush to the malls and big box stores, Auburn's smaller merchants will be open and have some bargains to offer, too. Typically the day after Thanksgiving is a normal to slighter slower shopping day in Downtown, shop owners say. Momentum starts building in early to mid-December. And the Festival of Lights parade, Old Town Country Christmas and special holiday open houses attract shoppers, too. Creative Urges owner Kathryn Santiago is jumping into the fray Friday, with a 25 percent off sale on everything in the store, she said. “I know they go to the malls early, but hopefully after that, they’ll come back here and stop at a couple of stores,” she said. Santiago said she’d like to see all the Downtown merchants work together on a sale event for Black Friday. “In these economic times we need to be a little creative and a little flexible to get people through the doors,” she said. Her busiest time starts the second week of December, although this year she had a pre-holiday rush during September and October with shoppers seeking crafts to create hand-made gifts. “One byproduct of the economy is people are thinking more about their purchases instead of just throwing a credit card at them,” she said. “(Gifts) are getting to be more personalized.” Across the street, at Georgetown Clothing Company, manager Wendy Sabins said the store will be open, but she’s expecting a regular day. “In years past, it’s been a little quiet,” she said. In the meantime, she’s making plans for the store’s annual Christmas social to be held the second week of December. “That brings people in,” Sabins said. At Avantgarden on High Street, owner Kim Wright expects Friday will be business as usual. “I’ve always felt that (Black Friday) was the “get in line for the big-screen TV” day,” she said. “In the past, a few shoppers have come in after they’ve done the malls.” She’s expecting her big rush day to be Dec. 5, when she holds an open house. Wright has scaled down the size of her Christmas trees and stocked fewer ornaments this year. But there’s a bigger selection of gifts. “(Because of the economy), people will be less focused on ornaments and more on gifts this year,” she said. At the Golden Swann Jewelry and Collectibles, owner Margareta Swann said Friday will be a day to welcome visitors. “(During Thanksgiving weekend), people come here to show off the store to people from out of town,” she said. The Golden Swann’s rush starts about 10 days before Christmas, she added. Me Gusta Baby, on Lincoln Way near the Clocktower, won't even be open Friday. “We give ourselves an extra day (for Thanksgiving),” manager Stephanie Allen said. “We figure no one is going to be breaking down the door on Black Friday.” But the store is prepared for the holiday rush, with plenty of extra toys in stock, she said. Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.