Small businesses plan for long weekend of shopping

There are a little more than 3,000 small businesses throughout Arizona, according to Local First Arizona.
(Photo by Alyssa Williams/Cronkite News)

Bunky Boutique’s merchandiser, Lauren Booth, stamps paper bags in preparation for Black Friday weekend. (Photo by Alyssa Williams/Cronkite News)

Bunky Boutique sells custom made jewelry from local artists to clothing from bigger indie lines.
(Photo by Alyssa Williams/Cronkite News)

Bunky Boutique, owned by Rachel Cary, opened its doors in September 2007. It has since expanded to the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. (Photo by Alyssa Williams/Cronkite News)

Bunky Boutique moved next to Giant Coffee in 2009. (Photo by Alyssa Williams/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Lauren Booth, merchandiser for Bunky Boutique, sits at the little wooden register in the corner of the downtown Phoenix store, stamping cards in preparation for the busy weekend to come.

The weekend after Thanksgiving brings “a lot of people who shop locally,” said Booth, and with Bunky Boutique’s expansion to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport this past April, they have seen more customer traffic to their online shop as well.

“It really has brought us to a national level,” Booth said. “The eyes on our website increase daily, so it’ll be interesting to see what Cyber Monday looks like for us this year.”

Rachel Cary, owner of Bunky Boutique, said in preparation for Black Friday weekend she takes the time to sit down with her team to analyze their sales tactics from the previous year.

“Armed with that knowledge we decide how to best prepare for this holiday season,” Cary said. “Sometimes we run with the same event and make some tweaks to improve it, and other times we start from scratch. We really try to envision what our customers expect for the weekend and what they would value as shoppers.”

The promotion the store uses for Black Friday carries on to the other weekend festivities, such as Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday, a shopping event marketed by American Express.

Cities across the state are taking the time to highlight local businesses with events like Alternative Black Friday at Cityscape in downtown Phoenix, where local vendors will line up to display their products.

“I’ve seen more collaborations like this this year than any year before,” said Erica Fetherston, communication director for Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization that works to promote locally owned businesses.

Local First Arizona promotes small business events, such as Alternative Black Friday, through a blog post on its website, Fetherston said. They also finished organizing an online directory of a little more than 3,000 local businesses across the state to make shopping locally easier for customers.

“We really work to promote shopping locally year round, but especially during the holidays when local businesses make four times the money,” Fetherston said.

Bunky Boutique’s Cary said customers receive “a much more genuine interaction when they shop locally.”

“They get to take home unique items that have a little story attached. It is a more relaxed and more thoughtful way of shopping,” Fetherston said.