Say hi to Mom and Pop: Shop local on Black Friday

The ramp up to Black Friday has been more energetic this year than any I can remember. There's a near insatiable thirst for discounts and door busters and retailers are more than willing to do whatever it takes to satisfy that thirst.

I've been covering national big box retailers for nearly 15 years now, and the volume of discounts this Black Friday is simply astonishing. All the national retailers like Best Buy, Target, Toys R Us and Walmart are rolling out new deals so fast it's difficult to keep track (although WalletPop does, check out our Black Friday listing). But there's more to retailing than national chains, and it's important to remember that mom and pop shops need to ring their registers too. This year, more than ever.

For the uninitiated, Black Friday got its name as the day when retailers would shift from being in the red for the year on over into the black. A lot of this is no longer true, especially for mass merchants, but at many smaller shops, more than half of all sales are done in roughly the last six weeks of the year. And that's in a normal year when times are good. This is anything but a normal year.

The shop local movement isn't new, but the stakes right now are a lot higher. So remember, after the early morning Black Friday deal hunting winds down, get away from the strip malls and discount stores and head back over to main street, or whatever your town has that's locally owned.

In Chicago, where I live, local papers are compiling lists of holiday promotions from independent retailers. Even nationally owned shopping centers like Westfield have mom and pop businesses, and are using free gifts and special offers to lure in shoppers. Local chambers of commerce are decorating, hosting and promoting shopping areas and events. Most weekends, from now until Christmas, you can stroll a prettily lit street, sip complementary hot beverages and purchase gifts either made locally or hand selected by an independent retailer.

Mom and pop shops need some love this holiday season.
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