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Black Friday

The notion in the media is that the Friday following Thanksgiving is
the busiest and sets the tone for the seaon.

I’ve not found this to be the case for my biz. I believe the bargain
hunters are out in the malls that day and while everyone appreciates
a deal, and I give them, generally my customers are not looking for
cheap. They come in starting second saturday in December and they
want something nice. I’ll use a discount to close if I need to.

I’m curius about others’ experience. Do any independants have a
campaign for that weekend? Do advertised discounts ever work for


I am a small-town jeweler and have found exactly the same situation
as you. Over the past nearly-thirty years I have tried everything I
can think of to jump start the holiday season, but nothing seems to
make a dent in the mall-itis in our mid-Michigan area.

The weekend following Thanksgiving is dead for us, and doesn’t start
to get busy until the second week of December. I don’t bother with
extended hours until then, and only stay open the last two Sundays
prior to Christmas.

Jon Michael Fuja

A jeweler in a nearby town held a wine and cheese reception one
night last week, and we just received a mailing with photos of some
lovely pieces by various designers. There was nothing specifically
mentioning that weekend, but the timing is right.

Beth in SC

My experience is the same as yours, and for my 16th season, it will
be the last two weeks that matter. I will be open the day after
Thanksgiving, but my store is dead that day. I do not believe
advertising would help as I cannot compete with the type of
merchandise that people shop for the day after Thanksgiving. As far
as discounting, I do whatever it takes to move pieces that have been
around for a while automatically, newer pieces I will give 10%, as
that is what I increase the price specifically to use as the velvet
hammer of retail if the customer seems sufficiently interested in an
item. I had a second location in a mall for 5 months and that was a
brutal experience. The stores mark a item up 6-8 times and sell it
for 30-70% off. If I had a similar item, better quality and better
gemstones for $100 less than the item on sale at the mall chain store
the customer would not buy it. The sale item seems like a better deal
to them. After I explain the whole thing to them, they would ask if I
could discount what they were interested in. They were incapable of
understanding I told them the truth and they walked.

Richard Hart


I have had the same experience as you. I am usually quiet as a morgue
on the weekend after Thanksgiving. It wasn’t always the case, but
over the years the season has compressed down smaller and smaller. We
don’t start seeing the big bucks anymore until 10 days before
Christmas. Even that is a little iffy now too. Sometimes we make our
season on only 4-5 days spread out during that 10 day period. The
malls however, as you’ve noted, do tend to be where the people flock
to. I think because they can shop at a lot of different types of
places for different types of gifts it’s a better environment for the
general shoppers. But since 85% of my business at that time of year
is men, and men are known for being last minute shoppers, they tend
to wait until the last possible moment to do their shopping.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

It is usually a busy day for me, but catch-as-can, since I am 50
miles from the nearest mall. I do mostly mail order, so mondays from
here on out will be the big days.

Stephen Walker

I managed a small jewelry boutique/ gallery for 5 years. The owner
said that there was nothing we could do to bring traffic in on
Thanksgiving weekend for the exact reasons Neil mentioned. He’s been
in business for 18 years! He’s not really near a mall, the store is
outside on a “walking” street with many other independents.

Well, with a limited budget, I took it upon myself to attempt to get
people in. I tried everything… discounts for that weekend only (he
rarely does sales), post card mailings, I had each sales person
personally call their fav customers telling them about our private

One year, we had a “designer party” invitation only, with champagne
and munchies.

One year I even offered a discount with purchase… All summer,
customers would build up points towards a gift certificate to be

the weekend after Thanksgiving. I can’t tell you how many of these
we sent out. That year, we probably had 5% come in that weekend with
their gift certificates. However, we had many come in in December
playing dumb trying to use them. That was a little difficult.

All in all, the owner was correct. We were getting people in for the
designer party, but nobody was buying. The gift certificate thing
kinda backfired because it was awkward figuring out what to do in
Dec, we didn’t want to alienate anyone… Customers didn’t want to
be called at home even with the promise of a discount. And the
mailings really didn’t help all that much.

I asked the opinions of many of our good, repeat customers when they
came in to shop in Dec. Most men said they haven’t even thought of
presents at that point. And many women said they preferred to do the
mall shopping to take advantage of the huge discounts. The largest
response was that they would have loved to come take advantage of our
sale/party/promotion, but were either out of town for the weekend
with family or had family in town and didn’t do any shopping at all.

I would love to hear what others have done and are planning on doing
this Holiday season.

Amery Carriere Designs

Trying to compete with the “Big Box” stores on that weekend is like
trying to compete with Stuller selling jewelry supplies. (Of course
there are ways to use your smaller size as an advantage even then.)

However, if we could develop a day for smaller business or artisan’s
work during a specific weekend - maybe 2 or 3 weeks before Christmas,
it could work to our benefit.

I am sure it would take years for it to become expected, but if we
could come up with a campaign and have a specific promotional
activity (each in our own location), it could grow. I am thinking of
things like open studios, invitation only events, co-operative
showings, the introduction of a new collection, etc.

Just an idea,

My jewelry business is located in a mall, and you are correct
Neil–the mall is absolutely PACKED with shoppers the entire weekend
after Thanksgiving, but the majority of shoppers are only looking for
items that are on sale at a deep discount. As a result, Black Friday
was never a big deal for us–sure, business that weekend was better
than normal, but considering the number of people in the mall, but we
were never as busy as I felt we should have been.

Up until last year, I was the type of retailer who didn’t "believe"
in holding sales or offering deep discounts, thinking that it
cheapened my product line & overall business. After all, I offer a
good product at a fair price, so why should I discount them? Also, I
was worried that I might “train” customers that if they held off
buying something they liked, eventually I would put it on sale.
(NOTE: Overall I think the retail industry has done exactly this, and
personally I almost never buy something until it’s on sale.)

However, last year I finally bought a jewelry inventory / POS
program, read a few articles by David Geller & others, and finally
began to realize how detrimental old / dead inventory is to a retail
business. Sure, my showcases were FULL of jewelry, but half the stuff
were old designs that for whatever reasons nobody wanted! I wasted
time trying to to offer small discounts and holding “fake” sales of
15 and 20% off until finally one day I said “Enough is enough”. I
cleared out two cases, filled it with stuff I’d accumulated over the
years, and put everything in it 50% off. And guess what? Customers
went NUTS!

As a result, I sold off a large majority of otherwise dead inventory
and began 2006 much healthier. The showcases looked fresh & clean,
downstock was organized & uncluttered, & personally I felt better
when I was at work.

Besides the fact that we all like to save money, one reason I think
sales are so successful during the holiday is this: most shoppers
have at least a couple of people on their holiday shopping list
(distant relatives, co-workers, neighbors, etc) that they feel
"obligated" to give a present to. Since they are not particularly
good friends with or close to these people, they don’t really care
what they end up buying, as long as they have to spend a lot of money
on it. However, if they can buy something inexpensive that LOOKS like
they spent a lot of money it, well, then all the better! I can’t tell
you the number of customers I helped last year who were looking for
"Obligation" gifts who couldn’t decide between a couple of items,
and when I pointed out that Item A looked the most expensive, that’s
the one they bought!

Interestlingly, I guess my concern about training customers to
expect a sale as come true–my employees tell me that several people
have dropped by asking if I’m going to be holding a sale this year!
Am I? Of course I am! I want to go into 2007 a lean, mean, selling


Black Friday has always been a total wash for me. I could leave the
door locked and not miss more than a few dollars in watch battery
sales that day. I don’t sell what most of those people are looking
for, bargains and give-aways. I had a lady poke her head in my door,
without stepping in, and asked “What are you giving away for free
today?’ " Nothing” I responded, and she closed the door and walked
away. I had never seen the lady before, and have never seen her
since. Who needs 'em like that?

Ed in Kokomo

Sure, my showcases were FULL of jewelry, but half the stuff were
old designs that for whatever reasons nobody wanted! 

As an “art jeweler” who sells almost entirely at art fairs, I wonder
if anyone has a solution for the “old stuff” problem. Most art fairs
frown on any discounting, or at least signage mentioning it, and it
does seem a bit tacky. If I merely lower the price on older stuff,
it doesn’t seem to help. What do others do to get rid of items that,
for whatever reason, haven’t sold?


As an "art jeweler" who sells almost entirely at art fairs, I
wonder if anyone has a solution for the "old stuff" problem. Most
art fairs frown on any discounting, or at least signage mentioning
it, and it does seem a bit tacky. If I merely lower the price on
older stuff, it doesn't seem to help. What do others do to get rid
of items that, for whatever reason, haven't sold? 

Noel, I picked my venue carefully, and at a show with more of an
"anything goes" atmosphere, I had a “50% Off Of Marked Price” sale
in one entire case unit of my display. The marked prices were genuine
former prices. I had a sign on my canopy post, and a clearly marked
sign for the case, “50% off this case only”. The response was
fabulous. Many bought for themselves, but there were many sales made
for gifts. Since most of what was on sale were designs that I am
capable of selling wholesale, I made out very well, and got rid of a
lot of stuff that I wanted to discontinue, at a profit, well above
melt value. I did not do it the next year at that show, but it has
been a while, so I may do it again in '07.

I tend to hold on to my production cast designs for too long, instead
of retiring them. This is a way to cut off old designs that I am
tired of looking at, which fill the cases too full. If you cannot
discount 50%, you might need to take a serious look at your pricing.
Consignment stores get 40 to 50%, you know, and wholesale is 50%
off, too.

M’lou Brubaker
Minnesota, USA

Maybe not he most practicle but deffinately the most novel way to
approach ridding yourself non moving inventory, for an artist /
craftsman. Disassemble the non-movers melt them down and turn them
into something that will move. You can find yourself with a lot of
inventory tied up in metals and stones. If it doesn’t move then it is
a waste of your resources. Move those resources to a place that they
will sell. Example from a Gallery Necklace to earrings, braclets,
and rings. Thing with a better price point and hope fully broader
appeal. MHO and 2 pennies.

John (Jack) Sexton

I am happy to report that having checked my sales program for last
year’s black Friday and today, last year we did much better than in
the past, and today we sold more than last year. I was not expecting
to do well today, and I am having a sense of accomplishment after 15
years of hard work. I hope others have had a good day of sales.

Richard Hart

I did better than I expected, and better than I have for several
years, at my Friday-Saturday craft fair show. What a pleasant
surprise! It was my best show of the year.

M’lou Brubaker

Ohio - specifically N.E. Ohio - Cleveland is the poorest city in the
country… Black friday was not that great.

Please, if you’re bragging about how well you did, let us know where
you’re located (geographical area)


Mid-Michigan area is probably the hardest-hit with auto industry
layoffs and buy-outs. Small downtown store, just about as expected,
just a normal “good” Friday as one could expect any other time of

My sales reps tell me horror stories from around the country.
Jewelry business is terrible while the papers tell us business is

Jon Michael Fuja

The weekend of Black Friday is traditionally a slow one for us as
people head to the malls for the most part, however I can report that
Saturday of that weekend was significantly better than usual, that
November has been a much, much better month than last year with a big
boost in the business coming from more early Christmas orders than I
can recall coming in for quite a few years. I’m hoping this is a
prelude to a strong holiday season.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

if you're bragging about how well you did, let us know where you're
located (geographical area) 

Actually I was not bragging, I was following up on the thread about
Black Friday, and posting my results. My store is in Denver, Co. And
things have been pretty slow since. I was hoping those who had
responded prior to Black Friday would have followed up on how things
were for them.

Richard Hart

Black Friday was just as expected for me in a North Central Indiana
rust belt town.- a very sleepy day. The masses go for the freebies
and near giveaways at the mass merchandisers. But this following week
has been really good. In addition, there are also a couple extra days
in the total shopping season this year, so people are just beginning
to get up to speed. Traffic count hasn’t been the best, but the
quality of the traffic has been excellent. Men are showing up earlier
than normal and spending fairly free. So far, I am expecting a good
to better season than last year(s).

Ed in Kokomo