Winchester set for ‘Plaid Friday’

WINCHESTER — Everybody knows the Black Friday routine. The day after Thanksgiving, shoppers, having barely digested their turkey and cranberry sauce, line up outside of retailers and malls, then jostle one another to pick up marked-down big screen televisions and the latest toys.

However, for shoppers looking for a different pace, the third annual Plaid Friday is coming to Downtown Winchester. Named 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 Friday kick off to the holiday shopping season is part of an effort to encourage consumers to spend their dollars at local businesses. Downtown shops will open at 6 a.m. Friday and many will stay open as late as 10 p.m.

Christine Patrick, the owner of Winchester Book Gallery and president of the Old Town Winchester Business Association, said Plaid Friday is not in direct competition with Black Friday deals.

“Black Friday is a big box store game where they take product they marked up gobzillion of percentage, then give you give a discount and still make money,” Patrick said. “As a small shop, I can’t play that game.”

After doing a little bit of research, Patrick found a small town in California that founded Plaid Friday, which encourages people to wear plaid and support locally owned establishments. Patrick said the point of Plaid Friday is to keep money in the community.

“When you spend a dollar in my store, a good amount of that stays in the community because I pay local city taxes and sales taxes, benefiting our schools and roads,” Patrick said. “When you buy at a big box store, that money goes elsewhere.”

According to Patrick, most of the 60 retail stores in downtown will have extended hours on Plaid Friday, and about 10 to 15 shops will actively promote the alternative shopping day. Customers are encouraged to wear plaid to commemorate the day.

Patrick said over the past two years, the hustle and bustle of Plaid Friday has altered due to large retailers opening earlier.

“It’s been tricky the last few years with the big box stores being open on Thanksgiving, because it changes the shopping behavior,” Patrick said. “Certainly you’ll get people early, but you’ll also get people down here to have lunch, after shopping early in the morning. It’s a steady flow.”

Patrick said when shoppers participate in Plaid Friday, they discover there’s more to shopping than discount merchandise.

“Shoppers discover the diversity of gifts down here,” Patrick said. “I think we answer the need to be creative and to think about all your gift lists. I think people, they can get what they want, with the service they want.”

Jennifer Bell, Winchester’s downtown manager, said in the past that Plaid Friday has been very successful.

“I keep track of the parking in downtown and we see a significant amount of people visit,” Bell said. “We see well over 600 cars in the downtown garages, so we know it brings in a lot of people.”

Bell said parking is free on the street during Plaid Friday and the downtown Winchester holiday decorations will be up by then.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com