Jessica Blair, owner of Verge, strings fake snow in the front of her store downtown Wednesday.
ALBANY -- As local consumers flood the retail centers that have become the staple of the annual Black Friday migration, shopkeepers downtown are hoping to cash in on residual shoppers looking for deals in a less stressful environment.
A handful of retail stores and eateries on Washington Street are partnering into a symbolic collective known as the Shops on Washington, hoping to spur sales and reach out to consumers who are not only looking to find great deals this holiday season but who also seek to support local small businesses.
"Many of the stores know they can't compete with the early-morning, Black Friday madness going on, and they really don't want to. Instead, they're hoping to attract people to a less hectic atmosphere where they can shop among friends and support their local community," Albany Downtown Manager Aaron Blair said.
Downtown's newest retail store, My Sister's Place, will officially open its doors at the intersection of Washington Street and Broad Avenue on Black Friday.
The shop offers a wide variety of items from clothing apparel to antiques, vintage items and home decor. Store owners also say they rent booths for people who have items to sell. They can be reached at (229) 432-5400.
Additionally, Verge, a high-end consignment shop, and Booters, the new sports bar and grill, are offering specials to attract consumers downtown.
The D'town Farmers Market is rebranding itself as "Our Daily Bread" and expanding its menu and consumables, Blair said.
The downtown action isn't limited to Washington Street, though. Many of the other downtown stores and restaurants will be open as well, Blair said. Global Essence on Jackson Street, for instance, is offering specials on its merchandise as well.
Beginning at 9 a.m Friday, the Flint RiverQuarium is having breakfast with Santa at which patrons can get a light breakfast meal and photo with Santa and even get access to the "Season of Light Planetarium Show" at Thronateeska Heritage Center from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., all for $6 for members and $8 for non-members.
The downtown merchants are also hoping to capitalize on a national movement Saturday to "shop small" and support small businesses.
"Small businesses are crucial to helping the economy rebound and grow," Blair said. "When you patronize them, you know your money is staying in your community and is helping create jobs and promote growth in your town, and that's a powerful thing."
Missy Whitney, owner of My Sisters Place, said she hopes people understand the importance of shopping locally while they're out gathering gifts this holiday season.
"I think it's a great thing to do. It keeps our local economy running and benefits the local community rather than sending dollars up to some corporate headquarters somewhere," Whitney said.
The Shops on Washington are holding their Holiday Open House Saturday when the storefronts will open with snacks, cider and, if you poke around long enough, you'll even probably find live Christmas music echoing off the buildings along the downtown streetscape.