Local businesses try to make their mark on Black Friday

NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - Black Friday has long-been recognized as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to all types of stores.

There weren’t many customers to be found Friday morning in downtown Neenah, not even at some of the shops that opened extra early.

"There was a few. They kind of trickled,” said Shelley Jansen, manager of Tricia’s Treasures. “I think a lot of people like to do the big box store thing early, unfortunately."

Jansen says the store opened in March, making this the store's first holiday season. Tricia's Treasures sells home décor, clothes, and accessories.

Jansen hopes that as word spreads about their Black Friday deals, more customers will come in the future.

"We want to compete with the big box stores,” said Jansen. “We want to get people in here and let them know that you can get your big electronics and that on Black Friday which, great deals. But come to Tricia’s because you’re going to find amazing gifts that you’re not going to find anywhere else.”

But one small-business owner in Neenah takes a different approach.

"There were people who were critical of the fact that we were going to be open, but we weren't going to do anything big today,” said Linda Wiese.

Wiese owns Valley Stamp and Scrap in Neenah, which sells various crafting goods and hosts classes to teach people how to use the products. She says her first Black Friday experience last year was similar to Jansen's.

"We learned that we didn't get that much traffic, and it dawned on us we were competing against the big box stores,” said Wiese.

Now she simply doesn't try to compete. Instead, she markets her store as a place to come and relax on Black Friday. She offers snacks, drinks, and crafting projects for customers.

“We need to let the big box stores be the big box stores and differentiate ourselves… any other time of the year we differentiate ourselves with our selection, and our classes, and the things they can’t supply,” said Wiese.

Wiese says her focus this year is on Small Business Saturday, a day that Jansen believes will be bigger for her store as well.

"People are going to go, they're going to visit the stores,” said Wiese. “They get the point of Small Business Saturday."

"Neenah actually does a big event for Small Business Saturday, so it's huge downtown here," said Jansen.

Even with different approaches, both women agree that every other day of the year they can stand up against big box competition.

"This is our time of year, and people know they can come to our store, and they can get those things they might not be able to get at a big box store,” said Wiese.

“Word's getting out there, so we're getting more and more people coming here rather than going to the big box stores,” said Jansen.