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Local businesses say no to Black Friday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Pre-Christmas shopping continues to creep farther into the Thanksgiving holiday. Some retailers are opening as early as 8 a.m. Thursday, but most locally owned retail stores are not giving into the early Black Friday shopping-hype.

Nationwide retailers including Gander Mountain, Books-A-Million and Big Lots are opening their doors on or before noon on Thanksgiving. Walmart, Dicks Sporting Goods, Kohl's, Best Buy and the Charleston Town Center mall will open later Thanksgiving Day.

"It has gotten especially crazy this year," said Charleston Department Store manager Dale Hayes. "We are not part of the craziness. We think Thanksgiving is a family day."

Since opening in 1921, Charleston Department Store has never opened on Thanksgiving. Hayes said the store would open an hour or two earlier, around 9 a.m., but nothing too much.

He said the store used to open earlier on Black Friday but has reduced its Black Friday hours.

"The market has gotten so congested [with larger box stores moving into the area]," Hayes said. "There are just too many stores and crazy hours. We're a little company and we do good business."

Nancy Ward does not regret keeping her store -- Cornucopia, on Bridge Road in South Hills -- closed on Thanksgiving or not opening early on Black Friday.

"It actually never occurred to us to do that," Ward said. "It's just never been the way we run our business."

Not having a corporate structure allows for more flexibility, she said. "We are not tied to somebody else."

Cornucopia employee Sarah Harless plans to spend Thanksgiving with her 9-year-old daughter, husband and extended family. She will have time to savor two Thanksgiving meals thanks to her employer.

"That's the great thing about working for a family owned business," Harless said. "You get to enjoy time with your family and they understand."

Harless has worked for larger companies before and said it's nice not having to call corporate to complain about not seeing your family enough on holidays.

"I don't have to get up at 4 a.m. either," Harless added. "We're normal business hours on the next day. It's nice."

Buddie Clendenin, vice president of Sport Mart, said he realizes they are not a giant department store.

"Over the past few years there has been more pressure to look at opening on Thanksgiving but we just feel being locally owned our employees are more like family," Clendenin said. "We want to give them that day off."

Since opening in 1930, Sport Mart has never opened on Thanksgiving.

"You just look at all these early openings and now on Thanksgiving opening -- we just don't see a lot to gain," Clendenin said. "It makes it a lot easier for us to make sure our people have their days off."

Sport Mart will open an hour earlier on Black Friday and extend its sales all day long. Clendenin said shoppers would stand in line at larger stores opening early Friday morning but hopes they won't forget Sport Mart.

Steve Isaac, a Sport Mart employee, said having Thanksgiving off is, "important to me because it's the one day of the year my entire family on my dad's side gets together." His nephew and wife are flying in from Florida.

"I understand why other companies are going to be open and so on but I'm just glad I'm here and Sport Mart as a corporation feels its important that we get to spend Thursday with our families," Isaac said.

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.

 


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