November 29, 2019

Consumers gear up for Black Friday

What do you do on Black Friday for? Personal shopping? Treat yourself presents? Or, Christmas shopping before the real frenzy starts in December?

Black Friday --  the day after Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday – the following Monday, are huge days for shopping in stores and online. Black Friday in the United States has long been considered the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. The day is a holiday from school and work for many people. Those people historically crowded the store with Christmas lifts of gifts they needed to buy.

The term “Black Friday,” became widespread in the 1960s and  a popular explanation for the name was that the day represented the point in the year when retailers began turning a profit, being in the black, as opposed to being in the red, and losing money. It has traditionally been a day when retailers have big sales and sharp discounts on merchandise. Many large retailers began extending their hours from early morning and some even opened their doors at midnight or earlier, enticing shoppers to go right from the Thanksgiving table to a Christmas shopping spree.

With the advent of the internet in recent decades, however, a lot of in-store business moved online. With a credit card and a computer you can click through your gift list and avoid the crowds at the mall. Online retailers began offering discounts as well, hence the birth of Cyber Monday.

That did not use up all of the days of the week, however, so in 2010, American Express came up with the idea of Small Business Saturday, conveniently tucked between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It was a day promoted for going into the local stores and shops in communities across the country – avoiding the big box retailers and the online giants such as Amazon. And of course, many of those shops will gladly accept your American Express card.

In Oxford, Small Business Saturday is celebrated by the Oxford Chamber of Commerce with a “Shop Small Shop Local” campaign, that reminds people there are plenty of independent stores in the city’s business district..

Here at the Observer, we want to offer a little organization to your shopping, whether that is going to be online, or in the stores.

Because reading is an activity we avidly promote, let’s start with where to go shopping for the readers in your life:  

The first place that comes to mind when thinking about book shopping, was Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble offers hefty Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, both online and in the stores.!

And, if you’re big into coupons, look no further than their Coupons and Deals page. Not only does this page give in-depth information about becoming a B&N member, but it gives you a long, extensive page of coupons you can choose from for whatever you’re looking for.

As well as being able to shop and save both in-store and online, if you’re a Nook Owner (the Barnes & Noble e-reader), these deals will apply to you through the online portal. So, you’ll be able to find deals on your e-reader as well.

And lastly, for Barnes & Noble, check out its Holiday Gift Guide. With bestseller’s up to 50% off, this guide will be your go-to for picking out books from every genre for either yourself, or gift giving. With checks to show you whether it’s available online, in stock at a store near you, and available for pickup near you, this page will save you time during the holiday frenzy!

To save you the sifting and confusion, we’ve given you an easy way to access Amazon Books, so you can find what’s on sale for Black Friday. With crazy sales and a wide array of options, you can find which books for which genre, which books are Amazon Prime qualified, and select a price range.

Amazon, of course, offers far more than just books. You can get anything there from toys to table linens

And, if you’re looking to get access to the books almost instantly, or, are wanting the option, Amazon is offering their Kindle reader for more than 33% off this Black Friday. With prices starting normally at around $90, you’ll be able to purchase the Kindle for just $59.99.  

Additionally, Amazon features their Editor’s Holiday Gift Picks, where you can choose from an abundance of books that vary in theme. They have books for your “little bookworms,” books under $25, and even cook books. You can also find the Best Books of 2019, where you could find the sequel to “The Handmaid's Tale,” with the price reduced from $28.95, to $15.80.

The Book Depository is a UK-based online operation with free shipping to more than 160 countries. It has some phenomenal deals for this holiday season. Linked is their Black Friday deals page, where you can find Black Friday Week Bargains, for deals over 70% off. Search in this page, and find deals all week that you can choose from.

If you like the idea of books, but even with 70% off, you can’t afford to check off your entire Christmas list, think about a membership card to the Lane Library of Oxford. It’s free to anyone living in Ohio and the collection is loaded with both hardcopies and e-books.

If you want to turn off your computer and do your shopping on the streets of Oxford, you can patronize the small businesses clustered uptown and throughout the city. The nearest shopping mall may be 30 minutes away, but this town of 23,000 (students included), even has two department stores in Walmart and TJMaxx. 

Belinda Gentry Cross has worked in Oxford for 18 years. Cross and her family have created a tradition when it comes to Black Friday shopping.

“After Thanksgiving dishes are done, the ads are laid out on the floor and the shopping list and strategies are made. We pack Ziploc bags with mints, bottled water, snacks and toilet paper,” she said. “When we enter the store, each person has an assigned list and the youngest in the group becomes the line placeholder. We are in and out of stores in under 30 minutes.” 

Cross calls it “Team Ninja,” because of her family’s skills when they are shopping through each store. By noon, they have gone to at least eight stores and plan to grab lunch to reminisce and laugh about the day.

They shop in Oxford, but also range as far afield as Hamilton, Cross said. Team Ninja began 15 years ago due to “necessity” Cross said. “We hated spending an hour searching stores for items and then another 30 minutes waiting to check out. We now divide and conquer.” 

Cross describes Black Friday as an adventure.

“You never know what you’re going to run into --  social issues, travel issues, but we always laugh and enjoy each other’s company,”  she said.