“If we open earlier, then maybe we can get the traffic from Macy’s or Target and make more money,” the owner of a small Glendale, CA, boutique tells the L.A. Times about her decision to open at midnight, possibly earlier. “If we don’t open with the big stores, they have extra hours with customers and we miss out on that.”
And it looks like the smaller stores can’t even wait until the wee hours of the morning if they want to ride the coattails of their larger competitors. Another Glendale Galleria boutique tells the Times that it opened up at 5 a.m. last Black Friday hoping to attract early bird shoppers, but that by the time they threw open the doors, most of those doorbuster shoppers had already gone home.
“We’re not a big corporation, and we’re not a big store, so we can’t really afford not to open,” explains the store’s owner.
Since most small retailers can’t feasibly drop their prices on big-ticket items to lure customers in, they need to get creative. One of the boutiques is going to try “flash sales,” offering back-to-back 10-minute discounts on select items.
However, some business owners say they just don’t have the product or price point to justify opening early for Black Friday sales.
“Apple could get away with it, because people will crawl over dead bodies to get the new iPhone,” says the owner of a boutique specializing in high-end European fashion labels. “But nobody is going to run out at night to buy a $200 pair of jeans.”