Local businesses know the importance of Plaid Friday

  • Bill Littles, owner of Steele's Stationers, and his daughter Jessica help customers at the Peterborough store. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Plaid Friday will take over downtown Peterborough on Friday as the annual event reminds people to shop local. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Plaid Friday will take over downtown Peterborough on Friday as the annual event reminds people to shop local. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/25/2019 5:00:03 PM

The idea of Plaid Friday originated in Oakland, California as a shop local alternative to Black Friday.

It slowly caught on in small towns across the country and first popped up in the Monadnock Region about 10 years ago. It was an initiative of Monadnock Buy Local that got small businesses together with the goal of keeping shoppers out of the big box stores on the day after Thanksgiving and give them a fun-themed way to shop locally.

It isn’t about flashy sales or huge discounts, but rather a reminder for folks beginning their holiday shopping season the importance of supporting the shops owned by people in the area you live. 

Willard Williams, owner of Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough and Keene, was one of the Monadnock Buy Local members that helped get Plaid Friday off the ground and looks forward to the day each year.

Williams said there have been a number of studies done about what happens when a dollar is spent locally compared to a national chain or online, and the impact is more than you might think.

Instead of offering free items or sales, Williams gives out buttons to those wearing plaid with the phrase “Plaid Friday? ask me”. With people walking around downtown wearing the buttons, it can be a conversation starter and a way to further inform others about the shop local movement.

“People have been very supportive over the years,” Williams said. “It’s about the community support for it.”

At Toadstool this year, like there has been in years prior, a photo booth will be set up outside the store where local photographer Kim Peck will snap pictures of those wearing plaid that can be shared online.

While its meant to be an organic way to bring more shoppers to local businesses, some in the area are offering up incentives to those who go in to stores this Friday.

At Steele’s Stationers, for everyone wearing plaid, they will receive 10 percent off their purchase.

Owners Bill Littles said that the idea of Black Friday has been lost over the years. It was never meant to be about massive savings, but rather was a phrase developed to signify the start to the season of profits for local merchants, who may have been hovering in the red for most of the year.

“It was the time when businesses actually made money,” Littles said.

Littles and his wife Elizabeth immediately got on board with the idea of Plaid Friday and has seen its impact over the years.

“It’s a way to bring it back to what it’s supposed to be, shopping locally,” Littles said. “That’s why we do the thank you.”

“And it makes it a fun thing to do on the Friday after Thanksgiving,” Elizabeth said. “It’s has really become part of peoples tradition.”

Shelley Osborne, who was one of the original owners of Joseph’s Coat and still works at the store, has seen people come in wearing plaid boxer shorts or nightgowns to show their support.

“I just think people really look forward to Plaid Friday,” Osborne said.

Joseph’s Coat also provides a thank you to customers who come into the store on Friday wearing whatever it is they own in plaid, by offering 10 percent off their next purchase.

“People that are shopping on Plaid Friday are really making an effort to shop locally,” Osborne said.

The response from customer over the years has shown Williams that the initiative is working and that more and more people are seeing the need to shop locally.

“It’s not about deals, but about people saying to each other to keep their dollars local,” Williams said.

Lori Jarest, owner of L&M Create It Crafts in Peterborough, said she hasn’t officially participated in Plaid Friday in previous years, but has seen its effects on the day after Thanksgiving. It is always a busy day for her small store and believes it has to do with people making it a point to support their local stores.

“Obviously it’s important and it brings in new people that don’t know I’m here,” Jarest said.

And without the support of the local community, Jarest knows that stores, especially specialty ones like hers, won’t survive.

“If people want businesses to be here when they want to buy something in person, they need to shop locally,” she said.

During Plaid Friday, Jarest will be holding a raffle for 20 percent off their next purchase.

For the Littles, who have owned Steele’s since 1988, they’ve seen the ebbs and flows of shopping local first hand, and are always for a way to remind people of its value.

“It’s really a win-win for everybody,” Elizabeth said.

But Black Friday isn’t the only shopping craze that stores have to combat with Cyber Monday right around the corner, too. Williams came up with the idea of Cider Monday, where they offer cider and snacks for people who come in.

“It was basically a response to Cyber Monday,” Williams said. “And it’s more for people to come in the store, have a glass of cider and joke a little about Cyber Monday.”

In the end, it’s just about changing people’s ideas of how to shop for the holidays – and the rest of the year.

“Local is very important and that’s what Plaid Friday is all about,” Osborne said.


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