Local stores get jump on holiday shopping season

Local stores are hoping to lure shoppers away from Black Friday deals.
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Holiday shopping starts earlier each year. Black Friday this year will begin on Black Thursday.

Kmart, Toys R Us, Walmart and other big retailers will open at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving, much earlier than last year.

Merchants along Massachusetts Avenue are also getting a jump on the holidays by hosting Midnight Madness Friday night (November 16), with ten stores staying open until the clock strikes 12.

Sarah Hanson with Global Gifts said it's a popular event.

"A lot of people are willing to come out late," she said. "It's not something we normally do, so it does add fun and spice to the holidays."

Kristin Kohn, who owns Silver in the City, began the event 11 years ago to compete with the big guys and Black Friday.

"We're a unique place and a unique group of shops, so we're just trying to get in front of people and let them see the different angles we bring," Kohn said.

It's not just the door-busters they're competing with, but the growth in online shopping.

Like Mass Avenue, Fountain Square has worked to promote itself as a destination with one-of-a-kind offerings.

The Funkyard Coffee Shop Gallery features local art and handmade jewelry.

"It's a different kind of experience when you shop mom and pop. It's a lot more personal and I think hassle-free," said owner Sherry Stiver.

Still, small retailers lack the resources the malls and big box stores have to advertise. That's why so many small business owners have embraced Small Business Saturday.

American Express began the campaign three years ago as a way to get shoppers to shop small for at least one day during the holiday season. Kohn said for her, it's been a big success.

"For us, it's become bigger than Black Friday," she said.

Those loyal to locally-owned shops aren't surprised.

Monica Lewis, shopping at Artifacts in Broad Ripple, said, "Here, you're looking at something special to pick out or for a unique gift for someone you care about."

Kathleen Haberthy, shopping with her mother and cousin on Mass Avenue, said she much prefers to the mall.

"It's just the window shopping, you get to do different things and see different people. The people watching is fun, too," Haberthy said.

The hope among small business owners is that there will be plenty of people to watch in their shops this holiday season.