Even with the cold weather Nov. 29, businesses were busy during Black Friday.
Around 25 local businesses took part in the annual customer appreciation event, giving shoppers the opportunity to buy Christmas gifts in the evening, when many businesses aren’t usually open.
“Black Friday was good. Regardless of the weather there were still lots of people out and about downtown, which was fantastic,” said Cynthia MacNeil-Burke, president of the Vulcan and District Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of people took advantage of shopping in the evening.”
The Vulcan Fire Department also stood around the fire pit, located in the empty lot beside Wolfe’s Hardware Ltd. Christmas trees were also sold at the same lot — far enough away from the fire pit, of course.
The Giving Tree, located right beside The Great Full Cup, had tags hung on the branches with gift requests. People took a tag and bought the gift from a local business.
The Vulcan Regional Food Bank received a dozen different gifts items, but unfortunately there were no food donations this year.
“People really like the ability to give back to the community,” MacNeil-Burke said. “They felt that personal connection, which was fantastic, and they like that (the) county offers something of this nature. We want people to be thinking Vulcan County first and thinking of our local businesses first, so having an event of this magnitude absolutely showcases that.”
Those who donated entered their name into a draw for Chamber Bucks, a new initiative. Chamber bucks can be spent at local participating businesses
First prize was $300, won by Billie Heggie, second prize was $150, won by Trudy Klassen, and third prize was $50, also won by Heggie.
“Overall the feedback regarding the chamber bucks was very well received,” MacNeil-Burke said. “It was nice that the chamber could implement something that would get the winners reshopping in the county specifically.”
“A lot of people were excited that they could actually utilize it within town here,” she added. “We wanted to bring the focus back to shopping local, so it was great that the participating businesses were on board to accept these chamber bucks.”
Santa Claus lit up the Giving Tree, captivating everyone, and also sat inside The Great Full Cup, with kids sitting on his knee while parents took photos.
To avoid making people stand in the cold, hot dogs were brought inside the ATB Financial branch.
Grace Cole, who co-owns the Liquidation Centre Wholesale Warehouse Ltd., said Black Friday was “absolutely excellent.”
“I couldn’t wish for a better day,” she said. “We had a lot of people, some who were waiting outside the store before we opened. We were busy till 9 p.m.”
She added she would encourage other businesses to take part in Black Friday in the future.
Dwayne Dallmann, owner and operator of Dallmann Computers along Centre Street, said he was busy in the morning and slow in the afternoon, but business picked up after 4 p.m. when people got off work.
“There were a lot of cars on Centre Street but I couldn’t see a lot of people moving around,” he said. “People slowly started coming in and they were checking out the deals and buying stuff and that all went pretty good.”
He said it was worth it to stay open late on Black Friday, even though his sales during the event were a bit down from last year.
He ended up closing his doors at 7:30 p.m. last year as he had no more customers after 7 p.m. This time he stayed open longer and was able to sell a television.
“It’s not really about the retailers, it’s customer appreciation,” Dallmann said. “It’s good to (give) your customers great deals as a thank you for coming all year round and keeping us in business, so everybody should do it for sure.”
Dallmann did question whether it was necessary for businesses to stay open until 9 p.m.
“I don’t know if there are a lot of people who will stay around downtown after supper for three hours, so maybe some revised hours, but yes everybody should be open for the customers,” he said.
G-Nel Nelson, owner of The Great Full Cup, said Black Friday sales were comparable to previous years.
“It was pretty steady all day,” she said.
The Great Full Cup again hosted crafts for children that evening, and there were less kids this year, likely due to the cold weather.
“Parents didn’t bring out their little ones like the previous year, which was understandable with the weather,” Nelson said. “People that were here enjoyed it and had fun, the weather was just tough.”