Local Shops Hope 'Plaid Friday' Will Boost Sales

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Like businesses nationwide, local merchants are struggling to make sales in the poor economy, especially during the holidays, a problem a new program seeks to address.

This holiday season, East Bay independent businesses are celebrating the local business sector by sporting plaid wear in honor of Plaid Friday, a new alternative to "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving.

Instead of waking up in the wee hours of the morning to hit the big stores and score the big sales, customers supporting the Plaid Friday campaign are encouraged to shop at their local, "indie" businesses on Nov. 27.

The campaign was created by Kerri Johnson, co-owner of Blankspace Gallery in Oakland, and Lena Reynoso, co-owner of The Compound Gallery and Studios in Oakland. Johnson said there should be an alternative to the big box store "Black Friday" for people to support local businesses.

"We want just more of an awareness ... of the great independent business culture," she said.

Johnson said they chose the name Plaid Friday to symbolize the diversity of the local businesses and "the colors blending together in harmony."

"We're trying to reach out to as many small businesses as possible," she said. "It's a digital grassroots effort."

Johnson said word of the campaign has spread because of support from the campaign's sponsors who have sent out advertisements and mass e-mails.

Involvement in Plaid Friday may help stores who have struggled in past years boost sales during the holiday season.

Steve Stevenson, owner of 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in Oakland, said his store suffered during last year's holiday season when it was at a smaller location. After moving into a larger space in March, Stevenson said sales have increased and the store has a better profile.

By taking part in the campaign, Stevenson said his store will likely have more sales this holiday season.

"It's been my experience that anytime these things get going there's a good turnout," Stevenson said. "(These events) are good at mobilizing people on a specific day and reminding (them) ... to look at the community."

More than 40 East Bay independent businesses have joined the campaign, most of which are having special promotions on Plaid Friday.

Julie Harleman, operations manager of Slash Clothing, a boutique in Berkeley, said the cohesive effort of local businesses is going to make a difference in creating a small business community.

"It's cool to have a common denominator in the community," she said. "It gives us a sense of being part of ... a community instead of just being a small store on your own."

Next year, Johnson said the hope is to expand Plaid Friday to the entire Bay Area and possibly hold multiple Plaid Fridays during the holiday season.


Contact Stephanie Baer at [email protected]

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