Tuesday, November 22, 2011

shop local - Plaid Friday + Oakland in the Black

The Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as "Black Friday" (1) since the 1960s, and has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the U.S. On one hand it means discounts and new items for consumers before the year-end holidays, and increased sales for retailers. On the other hand, it's led to a frenzy of buying things we don't necessarily need or can't afford, and even the trampling death of a security guard a few years ago. This year, some of the big box retailers are starting even earlier, opening at midnight on Thanksgiving. Which means employees won't get to fully enjoy Thanksgiving with their families and friends, because they'll be busy preparing for shoppers.

One response is to shop local and independent businesses instead of at big box stores. Plaid Friday started here in Oakland, but has spread across the country. Rather than joining hordes of people trying to buy the latest electronics they don't need and can't afford, shop and eat locally. More of the money you spend locally stays local (73¢ vs. 43¢ of each dollar).

There are dozens of East Bay businesses taking part and even some places to stop for a break from shopping, like Actual Cafe, Caffe 817, Farley's East and The Rising Loafer. Actual Cafe will be celebrating the addition of Periscope Cellars wines and Linden Street beers to their offerings, and will have a DJ and be hosting a local craft bazaar.

A number of participants are part of different popup markets around Oakland, but most are small businesses that have been part of Oakland for years.

Another shop local event on Friday is Oakland in the Black. If focuses on downtown businesses, and features many of the same ones taking part in Plaid Friday. They'll have DJs, live performances, and food vendors from 11AM-6PM at Broadway and 14th.

Whether you choose to shop downtown or somewhere else in Oakland, or shop some other day, shop local and shop independent. Keep your money local by buying local!

More on shopping (and banking and eating) locally:

More coverage of Plaid Friday on Oakland Local.

(1) It's interesting to note that the other meanings are almost all negative, because increasingly, Black Friday is viewed as a negative. The original shopping-related meaning in Philadelphia was a negative, referring to the large crowds and heavy traffic, and that part hasn't changed.

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