Local shops hope to see you this Friday

Published 12:04 am Sunday, November 20, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Jack and Stella Children’s Boutique employee Rivers Hosea covers the window of the store with Christmas decorations Thursday afternoon in preparation of Black Friday.

Natchez — Downtown Natchez businesses aren’t just preparing for their biggest shopping season of the year; they are readying for a reunion.

Black Friday — though still hugely profitable for local businesses — means more than long lines, grumpy crowds and ringing cash registers to the small businesses that hold up the local economy.

It’s something of a social affair too.

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Sisters Tamara Kelly Johnson and Tana Kelly Barlow have participated in the grand retail ball as shoppers. But this year they’ll be wearing glass slippers of another shade.

The duo is preparing for their first Black Friday as store owners of Jack + Stella, a children’s boutique downtown.

Johnson said she is expecting a really busy day for the boutique. The store is opening at 8 a.m. Friday, two hours earlier than on a normal business day.

Barlow said she and her sister are bringing in extra staff and making sure they have a game plan in place for Friday.

“We will have all hands on deck,” she said. “Its our first year, so we’re really excited and hoping we have a big crowd.”

Johnson said growing up in the Miss-Lou, she saw how Black Friday became a social event around town because so many people come back to Natchez to see their family and old friends for Thanksgiving.

“I saw it just going to places like Darby’s and driving by the Natchez Mall and seeing it so crowded on Black Friday,” she said.

Darby’s Everything Under the Sun has been open for 29 years, and co-owner Darby Short said Black Friday is essential to her business and really sets the tone for the holiday season.

“Every single hour of that entire day is important,” she said.

Short said Darby’s will be opening at 7:30 a.m. and will be having specials on merchandise and plenty of Darby’s fudge on hand.

Short said although Black Friday is a big sales day, it’s not just about the money for her and her husband, Dennis. She said the best part of the day is seeing old friends, making new friends and the joy the day brings.

“The best part for Dennis and I is watching the fellowship of all the people that come in the store,” she said. “We feel very fortunate that Darby’s has become a gathering place for people.”

Erin Myers, owner of Sun, Moon & Stars, said she and her staff always have fun on Black Friday.

Shannon Case, an employee at Sun, Moon & Stars, said people come in the store on Black Friday not just to shop but to have fun as well.

“We have so much fun in here,” she said. “People who come in that day want to come in because they know we’re in here having a good time.”

Myers said her store has already seen a kickoff into the holiday season.

“People just seem really in the mood to buy early this year,” she said.

Myers said she anticipates a good holiday season for sales and thinks Black Friday will top off the early sales she has seen.

Myers said 75 percent of her business is local, and she thinks it’s important for people to support their neighbors and their businesses.

“If people don’t shop local, we don’t stand a chance to stay open,” Myers said. “When you shop local, your money stays here and keeps your local businesses going.”

Shopping local is one thing that hits close to home for the shop owners, especially around the holidays.

“It means everything to our local economy,” Short said. “Not only for us as business owners, but, in general, it means everything.”

Johnson said she always tries to shop local for everything.

“I always say when you can shop local, shop local,” she said. “Anytime you can buy in your hometown, I think you should.”

Johnson said she hopes Jack + Stella becomes a staple in the local business community like Darby’s and other shops around town.

Barlow said she thinks the boutique provides a place where people can bring their children and talk with other parents about what they’re buying for Christmas.

Jack + Stella is the new kid on the block, but Johnson said she hopes people will give it a chance and make it one of their regular holiday shopping stops.

“I hope people will give the new store a chance and make it one of their stopping places to see friends, new and old,” she said.