Local businesses gear up for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The holidays are upon us, and after the proverbial Thanksgiving turkey dinner come the traditional shopping days of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Retail commerce is important to the economy, both regionally and nationally, and mall operators and small business owners are making sure to make the most of the opportunity, hoping to attract shoppers to their establishments this coming Friday and Saturday. The Ohio Valley Mall is gearing up for the biggest shopping days of the year with promotions such as its “Swag Bag” giveaway and a new promotion called “Chocolate Rush.”

“There will not be a balloon drop this year like we have had in the past. Instead, at 6 a.m. Friday morning, the first 200 shoppers in line outside of the front entrance will receive a candy bar, and inside the wrapper it will indicate what their prize will be,” said Ohio Valley Mall Director of Marketing Candi Noble-Greathouse. “There will be a prize in every candy bar, valued at $10 or higher. Shoppers will then redeem their prizes at Center Court.”

Prizes will consist of mall store gift cards and Ohio Valley Mall gift cards. Noble-Greathouse said all of the Cafaro Group-owned malls across the country will be doing the same promotion. Prizes can only be offered to those 18 and older, with valid identification, and not to mall employees.

The mall will kick off Black Friday events at 6 p.m. on Thursday following most families’ Thanksgiving feasts with its Swag Bag giveaway, in which the first 250 shoppers in line at Center Court will get a gift bag containing coupons and other promotional items from mall stores. Vouchers for gift card prizes will be placed in random bags as well. The mall will officially close at 1 a.m. Friday and reopen again at 6 a.m. for the Chocolate Rush. Noble-Greathouse noted that some stores may elect to remain open past 1 a.m.

“On Black Friday after we open, we will have “Rock The Mall” entertainment with D.J. Daner leading Christmas Karaoke, and if you are spotted wearing ‘reindeer gear’ included in the swag bag, we may stop you at random and give you a prize,” Noble-Greathouse said.

Santa Claus also will be at the mall at the concourse in front of Boscov’s.

“The setting for Santa is beautiful. Everything is new,” Noble-Greathouse noted. “We would like to thank our sponsors for the holiday events, West Virginia Northern Community College, Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital.”

Local businesses are also getting ready for Small Business Saturday, which is a nationwide campaign started 10 years ago by American Express to support independent retailers that encourages consumers to “shop small.”

Local small business owners in the area have been getting together to support one another through a cooperative group called West Virginia Event Pros and will be showcasing their products and services on Small Business Saturday. WV Event Pros is a group of professional entrepreneurs from across the Ohio Valley who provide a service for the same target markets. The members support one another, refer one another and network together to grow their own businesses with a goal of supporting the economy and cultivating ground for more small businesses to be established.

“We come from all walks of life. We have photographers, caterers, flower providers, entertainers — anything that touches on events, including weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, graduations and holiday parties. We take turns hosting our meetings at our businesses every month to get to know each other so we can be authentic in giving our customers great referrals,” said WV Event Pros member Stacy Gilson, owner of Hello Gorgeous Bridal Service.

The group does not collect dues from its members, and it essentially serves as a small business support group.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur for 30-plus years, and we wanted to pull our gifts and strengths together in a community setting to help everybody,” Gilson noted. “As far as Small Business Saturday, you have to have a storefront, so on I will be having five other businesses coming to my store to showcase their services — Mary Kay, photography, balloons and flowers.”

Gilson said she believes supporting small businesses is important because “they support the community and pay the taxes to pay for the roads and teachers’ salaries.We want to bring back our younger generation to be able to have a business and be entrepreneurs because that is the future.”

Local small businesses in Martins Ferry are getting ready for Winterfest, which overlaps Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Winterfest, initiated by the city’s new progress committee Project Forward, includes a parade on Friday evening and food and festivities during the day on Saturday.

Stacey Long, manager of Z’s Jewelry in Martins Ferry, said to promote her business the store will be giving a 20-percent discount on diamond rings and selling $10 and $25 purses. The store, which specializes in estate jewelry, plans to remain open for longer hours than normal to promote business on Black Friday after the parade. She said that in the past the jewelry store has not gotten more business than usual on Black Friday, but it picks up a little beyond normal on Small Business Saturday.

“We normally don’t get anymore business after the parade, but we like to stay open. On Saturday we will be giving away ‘Shop Small’ promotional canvas tote bags to shoppers,” Long added. “We hope people support small businesses this year.”

Shops in business districts throughout several local communities — such as Barnesville, St. Clairsville, Bellaire, Shadyside, Powhatan Point, Moundsville, Wheeling and more — will be open for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday shopping.