WALLA WALLA — There is a dark side to Thanksgiving and there is a plaid side.
The dark side has nothing to do with dark meat but everything to do with Black Friday, as the operating hours for national chain stores encroach on Thanksgiving Day.
As for the plaid side, you could say it’s the antithesis of Black Friday, almost.
“We have no desire to compete with that sort of thing. We are keeping our normal business hours,” independent downtown merchant Kim Holland of Lotus Clothing and Jewelry, 19 S. Spokane St., said.
The fact is, however, downtown merchants are also after Christmas shopper dollars. And like the nationals, a few have their have their own promotions, such as Plaid Friday, aimed at getting people through their doors.
“There’s a free gift for the first 25 customers, but they must wear plaid,” Holland said,
A block away at Door Number Two, 32. S. Colville, merchant Jessica Valentine-Whiteside will take $1 off every $5 purchase and $5 off of every $20 spent, as long as customers are wearing plaid.
“Plaid Friday is the fun and enjoyable alternative to the big box store Black Friday,” Valentine-Whiteside said, adding that it isn’t just the merchants who benefit from Christmas dollars.
Jennifer Northam of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation agreed, saying money spent locally mostly stays in the community.
“There are a lot of studies and discussions regarding the fact that a dollar spent at a local store keeps well over half of it in your community,” Northam said.
A few other downtown merchants will offer shopping incentives on Black Friday or Plaid Friday.
Book & Game Co., 38 E. Main St., will hold its “Thanks for Shopping Indie!” event on Friday and Saturday.
Shoppers can buy two and get one free on selected items. And Friday and Saturday night from 6-9 p.m., customers can roll a dice to determine if they will get 10-50 percent off their purchase.
Olive Marketplace and Cafe, 21 E. Main St., will bring in Santa from 10-2 p.m. on Friday. There will also be free cookies and warm cider for kids. And all proceeds from pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin cheesecake sales and $5 from every $50 gift certificate will go to Walla Walla food banks.
At 2 E. Poplar St., LeFore’s Spa will be open 8:30-11 a.m. only. Those who purchase a gift card between $50 and $500 will receive a free gift certificate matching that amount.
Gourmet food truck Andrae’s Kitchen, which will be set up at Ninth Avenue and Poplar Street both Friday and Saturday, will sling its new Burger of the Month gift cards. Chef Andrae Bopp said the cards are being rolled out specifically for the holiday gift-giving season at discounted prices.
A few other downtown merchants will open early on Friday and offer free cider.
“Its just merchants coming together to say we need to unify, that way we can compete against the national chain. It’s not just about competing against the chains, but also a chance to enjoy the community,” Holland added.
As for today, downtown merchants will mostly be closed, though Sears and Starbucks will be open.
Other local national retailers open today include Walmart, Kmart and Shopko.
As for Friday on Main Street in Walla Walla, it will mostly be regular business hours, even though it will be Plaid Friday.
“You can even sleep in. No pre-dawn hours here,” Valentine-Whiteside said.