Local stores see Black Friday impact

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Bark River resident Mary French thinks about buying a large teddy bear at the Menards store in Escanaba earlier this morning.

ESCANABA — Today is Black Friday and the holiday shopping season is underway. Local retailers said this day has a sizable impact on business each year, and 2017 is no exception.

One of Escanaba’s biggest stores is having their first-ever Black Friday today. Meijer Store Director Jeff Kietzman said he is optimistic about the effect this day will have on business at his store.

“I’m expecting a good-sized crowd,” he said.

Meijer got an early start on seasonal deals — the store’s first major sale of the holiday season took place on Thanksgiving.

The Menards store in Escanaba also has high hopes for business today. Tim Strasser, the store’s general manager, said he expects Black Friday business at his store to be stronger in 2017 than it was in 2016 — their previous record-setter.

“Every year gets better,” he said.

As Menards offers a wide variety of products, Strasser said he is not yet sure what the hottest items at his store will end up being today.

“It’s just really tough to tell what that’s going to be,” he said.

Strasser also noted in addition to their in-store sales, Menards will be among the many retailers offering deals online next week.

“We have our own Cyber Monday,” he said.

Smaller retailers in the area see a boost in business from Black Friday each year, as well. Escanaba Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Ed Legault said that — while the kickoff for holiday shopping in downtown Escanaba was the “Black Friday on Tuesday” event held earlier this week — today is still an important day for stores in the area.

“We are open on Friday, and we have great deals downtown,” he said.

Legault also noted this weekend can be an ideal time for people who were window shopping downtown on Tuesday to pick up any items they were looking at then.

“They might come back on Friday or a different day to actually purchase,” he said.

Positively! The Center for Success owner Peggy O’Connell-Schumann said much of her store’s Black Friday business comes from people returning to the area for the holidays.

“They like that hometown feeling of being downtown,” she said.

According to O’Connell-Schumann, popular items at Positively! this holiday season are likely to include Snoozies slippers, candles, and locally-themed wall art.

O’Connell-Schumann said that improvements will be made to Positively!’s online presence this holiday season.

“We’re hopping on the bandwagon big-time,” she said.

Black Friday is also a major day for stores in Manistique.

“It’s phenomenal — it’s something we look forward to,” Kathy Jerde, co-owner of the Mustard Seed, said.

Jerde said there are some types of items that are likely to fly off the shelves at her store this year.

“We always sell a lot of sweatshirts and shirts,” she said. She also believes that apparel, jewelry, and candy will sell well today and through the rest of the holiday season.

According to Jerde, the Mustard Seed’s decades of history and its role in the community have helped it to stay relevant in the face of larger stores and online shopping.

“It’s like a gathering place,” she said.