The Montrose Shopping Park is ready to entice shoppers and celebrate the town.
By Charly SHELTON
he day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday. It has been termed as such by police since 1961, according to periodicals of the time, in reference to the traffic jams caused by the biggest shopping day of the year. What once was seen as a negative title by merchants has been embraced by the largest stores that offer “doorbuster sales” starting as early as 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. For smaller merchants, like those in the Montrose Shopping Park, there is a better way.
Instead of the mad scramble in the malls, they offer a pleasant stroll down the walk with carolers, Santa and snow. Instead of Black Friday, the Montrose Shopping Park Association will host its annual White Friday.
“We’re just trying to get people to think about us before they go to the Americana or the Glendale Galleria or wherever and give us a shot because we got the stuff,” said Dale Dawson, business administrator and events coordinator for the MSPA. “Usually on Black Friday, the whole world rushes to Walmart at 3 a.m. It’s ridiculous. But we’re not going to do that. We’re going to stay normal and we want the people to come up or come up if you exhausted yourself at [a big box store].”
White Friday started about five years ago, Dawson said, with an offer from the merchants to “white out the sales tax” for their customers. In addition to whiting out the sales tax, they whited out the street with real snow. Now with the statewide drought, the MSPA has found an alternative that is drought-tolerant – nine snow flurry machines placed along the 2200 block of Honolulu Avenue to let snow fall from above.
This is just one aspect of White Friday that guests can expect to see. There is a stage for caroling, plus live music, Santa Claus greeting children on a brand new throne and a ceremony to start the Montrose holiday season as the mayor of Glendale lights the Christmas tree.
“The big thing is the tree lighting,” Dawson said. “This year we have a fresh cut tree instead of the artificial ‘Hollywood’ tree that some people liked and some people hated because they thought it looked a little garish for Montrose. So we’ve got a live 16-foot Noble fir coming in which we will light up and decorate to the nines. When that tree lights up, the main tree at the corner in front of Starbucks, then the Prom Plus Club kids are going to sequentially hit all the GFIs down the street, lighting up the rest of the town’s trees from Verdugo to Las Palmas.”
White Friday leads into Shop Small Saturday, a promotion from American Express that encourages shoppers to remember their local stores during the holidays. American Express created a day specifically to emphasize shopping small in the same way Black Friday encourages shopping at large chain stores. For the last five years, AmEx has sponsored this event to raise awareness, track trends and give small businesses as much turn-key info as they can to get those shoppers to stay in the community.
“Customers really value the idea of supporting small businesses. We have seen over the years an increase in customer awareness of Small Business Saturday as well as support [for it],” said Nicole Reinbach Reyhles, official spokesperson for Small Business Saturday. “For example, last year alone, just reflecting back on 2014, there was a 55% increase this year in customer awareness of Small Business Saturday. And of the customers aware, 77% plan to shop small. So we know the customers enjoy supporting these businesses because they’re recognizing the value of small businesses and how they directly impact their local communities.”
Maureen Palacios of Once Upon A Time bookstore in Montrose will be taking part in the festivities on White Friday and Small Business Saturday. She will be hosting special guests and more.
“For White Friday, we are ‘whiting out’ our sales tax and we will be here from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. so it’s going to be very exciting,” Palacios said. “But that is not the most exciting day. I think our most exciting day will be Saturday, when we have 11 authors here as honorary booksellers. They can help you find a good book or they can sign a book that they have written. It’s very exciting. We will be offering a free gift with purchase, we will have goodies, we will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and it will be very fun.”
Kim Kelly of Merle Norman Cosmetics said their store will also be whiting out the sales tax and launching a new purchase with purchase gift set for $37.50 when $50 is spent.
The real value of these promotions is that it gives back to the community. Shopping locally contributes to the town and keeps these businesses alive.
“I would remind the public that for every dollar you spend locally, 68% stays within your local community,” Reinbach Reyhles said. “And these businesses help shape the character and charm of our communities and neighborhoods across the country. And many of us choose to live in certain communities because of that character and charm that small businesses help create.”