Small Towns. Small Stores. Big Deals.

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Malls and megastores aren’t the only ones gearing up for holiday shopping in the days after Thanksgiving.

Small shops are planning their approaches for Black Friday, which includes offering themselves as a calmer option, closer to home, that helps the local community.

Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce president Morri Yancy said she hopes residents will choose not to head to bigger cities this weekend, but instead stay in their own town.

“I think people are just naturally trained to go to the malls on the day after Thanksgiving and the weekend after Thanksgiving,” Yancy said.

“Instead of going over to the shopping malls, we encourage you to come downtown, shop local.  There’s not as much craziness, and it’s just a nice change of pace.”

Several of the main street shops on Gunter Avenue will offer discounts comparable with those of the mall chains, but also tailored to their clients.

“We try to excel in customer service and provide special goods and services that in many cases can’t be found in the big box stores,” Walter ‘Bubba’ Martin said.

He owns and manages Bubba’s II Men’s Wear in Guntersville.

“In our case, we have several very strong sales that we’ll be having this weekend to provide for our customers good deals, competitive–if not better–pricing than the big box stores on some of the things we carry,” he said.

“We [and other successful stores] stick to those things that are our advantage and as a result, a percentage of those small businesses still exist today.”

Martin said the small-business landscape has definitely changed since he opened his first men’s clothing store in 1977.

“Shrinking we may be, but strong and still here we are,” Martin said.

He said this weekend is about making sure customers know they are appreciated.

Carlie Ray of Jilli’s-Byrd Boutique shares that attitude and approach.

“We offer a relationship,” Ray said about the benefit of coming to her store.

“I think the most important thing when people come through that door is to know that they are a person and not just a sale.”

Jilli’s-Byrd will offer discounts stay open late, but won’t open ridiculously early.

Chamber president Yancy said the “Small Business Saturday” campaign is not only about helping these particular small shop owners, but small towns as well.

“No matter where you are–if you’re in Guntersville, if you’re in Muscle Shoals, if you’re in Huntsville, putting money back into your own community is so important because that goes back to our schools, to our city services,” she said.

“People don’t always stop and think about that when they’re running to the shopping mall.”

The Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce has an extra incentive to buy gifts in town.

They will offer Santa’s Workshop Gift Wrapping from November 26 through December 21.

The service is free for any presents bought in Guntersville.

Bring your boxes and proofs of purchase to the Chamber offices and they will take care of wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows.


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