By Ryan Cornell
WINCHESTER -- An alternative to the frenzied Black Friday hustle and bustle is catching on with shoppers and storeowners in Downtown Winchester.
Named Plaid Friday after the concept of "weaving the individual threads of small businesses together to create a strong fabric that celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses," the Nov. 29 start to holiday shopping encourages spenders to shop at local independently owned stores rather than big box stores.
Or, as Murphy Beverage Co. owner Joseph Murphy calls them, the "two Bs."
"Sarah Palin talks about the war on Christmas," he said, referencing the holiday's increasing secularity. "These stores are like having a war on Thanksgiving."
His beer and wine shop will offer rotating specials on the day after Thanksgiving with up to 25 percent discounts from 6 to 7 a.m. and 9 to 10 p.m.
Other Winchester businesses participating in Plaid Friday and offering specials include: Espresso Bar & Café, Posh Pets Boutique, Winchester Book Gallery, Polka Dot Pot, Old Town General Store, Royal Lunch, Olde Towne Armory & Heirlooms, Abija Blue, Fashion Worthy and Remember Yourself Massage.
After Plaid Friday was successfully introduced to the city last year, more than half of the stores on the downtown walking mall have jumped on board, according to Posh Pets Boutique co-owner Rebecca Miller.
Her pet store will let customers take pictures with Santa Claus from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday and will be donating the proceeds toward animal rescue. She said she challenges people to get all their Christmas shopping done downtown.
"We'd like to dispel the myth that shopping downtown is expensive," said Miller.
Many of the businesses are extending their hours for the all-day celebration and adding special events.
The Winchester Book Gallery, open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., will host both authors and artists over the weekend. Bookstore owner Christine Patrick said live music will be performed Friday and Saturday night and authors Alix Moore and Monique Brinson Demery will be in the store on Saturday.
Patrick, who said she can hardly wait to don her plaid threads on Friday, brought the Oakland, Calif.-based holiday to Old Town after she read about it online.
"We're always looking for a way for people to have fun in Winchester," she said. "It's another opportunity for a fun day."
A website for the 3/50 Project, which is dedicated to supporting independent business, states that most of the money spent at these local "mom and pop" shops stays in the community.
"For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures," it states. "If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home."
Jennifer Bell, Winchester's downtown manager, encourages shoppers to celebrate Plaid Friday as well as Small Business Saturday the day after, which was created by American Express in 2010.
"You have a more personal experience with retailers," she said. "You can get something unique and special."
Not only is it an important economic tool for the community, but also she said the atmosphere is more positive.
"It's pushing each other out of the way to get good deals versus walking down the charming downtown," she said.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org