Drop Dinner to Shop?

The Bounty Box features five treats from local farmers in the Hudson Valley region. Photo courtesy of Mary Kelso

In anticipation of Black Friday, Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart and Toys R Us have recently announced that they will be initiating the popular sales beginning on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m. this year.

The National Retail Federation expects U.S. shoppers will spend $586.1 billion this holiday season, roughly 10 percent of that will come from the Black Friday weekend.

Despite the large figures, the bump-up in time of Black Friday begs the question; how early is too early? How many shoppers are willing to leave their loved ones during Thanksgiving dinner to venture out into the madness Black Friday causes in order to buy those same loved ones gifts at a discounted price?

The superstore chains are persuading shoppers into skipping out on Thanksgiving dessert to come to their store by offering incentives. For example, according to USA Today, Toys R Us will give away “Great Big Goody Bags” a $30 value of stocking-stuffers to the first 200 customers in line.

Despite these tactics, some Wal-Mart employees are not willing to miss out on family time to work. According to an article by CNN, Wal-Mart employees from about 1,000 stores out of the total 3,971 around the country are planning a walkout on Black Friday to combat the extra hours they will be required to work.

Cultural Anthropology professor at SUNY New Paltz, Lyla Yastion, refers to American society as “consumerist crazy” and believes that the devoted shoppers are “denying the importance of communal celebration.”

According to Yastion, a friction between the value of family and consumerist rage or addiction is in effect.

Extended Black Friday hours may cause a riff in some family ties, but how will it affect smaller, more localized stores?

Business professor Kevin Caskey views the extended Black Friday sales time as a good business tactic for larger companies like Wal-Mart, however they do cause operation expenses to rise. It is tougher for small businesses to compete with these hours, but shorter hours and smaller workforce does allow for lower expenses.

Despite the popularity and power of Wal-Mart, a couple local businesses are gearing up to offer unique gift ideas for individuals looking to avoid long lines and mobs of shoppers.

One example is Bounty New York, run by Mary Kelso and her husband to promote locally grown foods. Their company is raising money through a Kickstarter campaign to fund their project of selling “Bounty Boxes” which include five treats produced by farmers and bakers. The featured items are raspberry jam, homemade biscotti, dilly green beans, granola bread and maple syrup.

Kelso said she wanted to provide an outlet for local farmers to sell their products on a larger scale as opposed to just once a week at farmers markets. Kelso also said her “Bounty Boxes” are different than any other gift basket because she includes detailed notes on how and where each item was made, as well as how they taste.

Kelso’s goal is to sell 200 boxes and then offer a new set that will focus on farmers’ products from a different region of New York State.

Another new entrepreneur in the New Paltz area combating big-name businesses is Kathy Preston of The Treehouse, located on North Front Street. The Treehouse is a shop where 20 artists from the Hudson Valley supply customers with items ranging from home décor, knit wear, fine art, sculpture and other hand-made gift items that are “personalized and less commercial,” according to Preston.

To promote her newly opened business of just seven months for the holiday season, Preston is participating in Downtown Unwrapped, an event taking place Friday, Nov. 30 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

The event will kick off with a walking tour beginning at 6 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Water Street Market and end at North Front Street. A gnome hunt and meet and greet with Santa will also occur. All participating shops will distribute 20 percent off coupons that shoppers can use for the duration of the weekend.

“People come here looking for quality more than a killer deal,” Preston said regarding her business.

The Treehouse will be closed on Thanksgiving as Preston will be spending the day with her family. She said that is the benefit of being the sole proprietor of a small business.

A glimpse at The Treehouse and Bounty Box on PhotoPeach

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