BANGOR, Maine — Want to shop on Friday, but cringe at thought of long lines and jab-throwing discount shoppers? Downtown Bangor may have what you’re looking for.
Businesses downtown have teamed up to offer a calmer, more laid-back alternative to Black Friday. It’s called Plaid Friday.
It is the second year the downtown businesses have collaborated to give Black Friday a run for its money, and the initiative is gaining momentum, according to Jason Bird, downtown coordinator for the city.
Bird said last year’s Plaid Friday, a grass-roots movement that has taken off around the country, was a hit and featured more than a dozen participating businesses. This year it’s closer to 30.
“It really resonated,” Bird told the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday. “In talking to people, they fully agreed it does a good job really identifying the distinction the downtown has as a retail destination. It’s a little quirky.”
Downtown businesses will be opening at normal hours, probably around 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., and offering discounts throughout the day — some of which will only be available to shoppers wearing something plaid.
“There will still be discounts and good deals, but you don’t have to get up at 3 a.m. to stand in line and get those deals,” Bird said.
Participating businesses include The Briar Patch, Metropolitan Soul, Bangor Wine and Cheese, Central Street Farmhouse, The Rock and Art Shop, Valentine Footwear, Maine Jewelry & Art, American Retro, Mexicali Blues and Rebecca’s.
Chris Dodd, manager of The Rock and Art Shop on Central Street, said last year’s Plaid Friday was “fantastic” and brought a “huge influx of customers.” But the energy already surrounding this year’s event makes him think this Friday will be even better.
The Rock and Art Shop will be offering 10 percent off any nonconsignment item to anyone wearing plaid.
Customers like the event, Dodd said, because of the ability to shop without the lines and aggressive bargain hunters. It’s also good for the local economy.
“It really drives the local economy to come down and support us and all the other small businesses,” Dodd said. “The money that’s spent here stays here.”
Bird couldn’t estimate the impact last year’s event had on the local economy. However, there’s a plan this year to collect data on crowd size and sales volume, which will help gauge the impact the Plaid Friday event has on downtown businesses, he said.
But it’s not just retail businesses getting involved.
Shoppers who need a pick-me-up can get free coffee at Verve or the Antiques Marketplace by showing a receipt for more than $25 from a participating downtown business.
And, not to be left out, Connie Boivin, general manager of The Charles Inn on Broad Street, is offering a deal to anyone who wants to extend their Plaid Friday experience beyond normal shopping hours.
On Friday, shoppers who show a receipt from a downtown business will receive 50 percent off a room that night, Boivin said. Standard room rates range from $119 to $129, so Plaid Friday shoppers could make a night of it with a $59 hotel room. Go to bed on Plaid Friday; wake up on Small Business Saturday. The deal is only available to walk-ins.
“A lot of people come by and don’t even know The Charles Inn is here, so it’s a good way to let people know we’re a small business downtown, too,” she told the BDN on Wednesday.
Boivin also is joining in the checkered fun. She and her bartender both went shopping for some plaid clothing to sport on Friday. So, if you visit The Charles Inn on Friday, Boivin will be the one behind the desk with the plaid jacket.
Though she’ll be working, the thought of shopping downtown versus at a mall resonates with her, as well.
“I know it would make me want to come shop here rather than fight the crowds,” Boivin said. “It will be a fun, laid-back shopping experience.”
Bird said all the businesses working together make the event worthwhile.
“It speaks to that neighborhood feel that downtown businesses have, and wanting to work together to promote and do this stuff,” he said. “You don’t see that kind of coordination and camaraderie everywhere.”