NEWBURYPORT — Temperatures in the high 50s brought a myriad of people to downtown Newburyport on Black Friday yesterday, leading local business owners to feel cautiously optimistic about this year’s holiday shopping season.
“I’d rather be here than at the mall,” said Colleen Detjens of Earlham, Iowa, as she took a break at the 17 State Street Café. “You don’t have to fight the crowds. It’s easier to find parking. Honestly I think the small town, local shops are friendlier and you can find things that are more individualized, whereas at the mall it’s pretty much the same cookie-cutter types of things.”
Sales clerk at the Dragon’s Nest Ann Simpson was working last Black Friday and said this year’s crowds were a little different.
“I’d probably say, same but different,” said Simpson. “Last Black Friday, it was steadier, this time, it is spottier. It comes in huge waves and then is receding. Last year, it seems like it was steady from the beginning. It’s a nice day and there’s parking, because people are saying they’re not walking from a hundred miles and that they’d rather be here than in a mall and fighting that kind of traffic.”
Indeed the old fashioned New England ambiance of downtown Newburyport is what drew many people to the area yesterday.
“In Newburyport, I’m not so much looking for good deals as cute and trendy,” said Gail Detjens of Haverhill. “We’ve got eight people and they’re wandering all over Newburyport buying, buying, buying.”
Newburyport, Amesbury and other downtowns don’t cater to the “Black Friday” box-store business plan that sees people showing up at the wee hours of the morning fighting for heavily-discounted items. Instead, they turn to their own innovations, such as “Invitation Nights” in early and mid December, during which the streets are crowded with people enjoying refreshments, entertainment, and a traditional holiday shopping experience.