As shoppers in Billings set out early Friday morning to crowd big box stores and get the best deals of the year on video game consoles, televisions, clothing and more, many are wondering how small businesses in Billings are faring on Black Friday this year.
Linda Brooks, owner of Something Chic in downtown Billings, said Friday afternoon that some things have changed this year that have helped her business. She has been able to receive more exposure compared to last year around the holidays. She had only been open for six months at that time.
She says the addition of online sales has also helped during this time of year.
“It (the sales) started at 7 a.m. this morning and it goes until midnight tonight. So even after our doors close tonight, you can still shop online from the safety and comfort of your home. You can come pick up when we are open, we will ship it to you and we can deliver in town if you like, so whatever works best,” said Brooks.
Brooks says they are offering plenty of sales and discounts, such as 15% off storewide and 20% off $150 purchases. She said that it is important that people shop locally at this time.
“Small businesses are kind of the backbone of our community. We employ a lot of people in this town. Small businesses are the ones that support your local organizations, your little league teams. Your big-box stores aren’t supporting all of your local things,” said Brooks.
Scott Brown, owner of the Base Camp in Billings, said it was a slower black Friday this year, which he says is due to the pandemic.
“So far today traffic has been off a bit off from previous years. We expected that. I think people don’t want to shop in a big crowd. Hopefully it will come back over the full holiday season,” said Brown.
Brown says that to make people feel more comfortable this holiday season, he is ensuring that all staff have their temperature taken when they arrive to work every day, and there is a zero-tolerance mask policy for customers. Brown says if customers do not have a mask, one will be provided when they walk in.
Chris Montague, owner of Montague's Jewelers, said he is offering 20 to 40% off everything in the store. He says a big factor this year is online sales.
“I had never really had an online presence before. We are offering free delivery and free postage much like the online retailer do, to try and compete. With this COVID situation, we feel we have had to adapt a little bit and do those things,” said Montague.
He says there are many reasons why people in Billings should consider shopping locally.
“Local businesses support our community. I think it is really important that we support them back. One of the biggest reasons is for every dollar that you spend locally, about 68 cents of every dollar stays local. If you shop online, zero dollars stay local, and if you shop at big box, 33 cents of every dollar stay local. So just from a pure economic standpoint shopping local is good for our local community,” said Montague.
Even though the Black Friday deals may end tonight at many locations, remember that tomorrow is Small Business Saturday in downtown Billings.