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Holiday shopping in full swing

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Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, the days following Thanksgiving, have become the year’s biggest shopping days and a jumpstart for the holiday season for retailers. 

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was a heavy shopping day for Americans. Nationwide, a quarter of a billion shoppers spent $89 million, and that’s not counting Internet shoppers. 

Some retailers, such as Walmart and Sears, opened on Thanksgiving Day, and sales topped $35 million.

Local Walmart manager Dan DeWitt said the store is up about 10 percent in sales. The Thanksgiving evening hours broke up the crowd, DeWitt said, so there wasn’t such a rush at 5 a.m. Friday morning. Big draws were a 50-inch TV for $298 and a tablet computer for $399, he said. After electronics, bestsellers were toys. 

Locally, small businesses began their holiday season, too. 

”We had the best day after Thanksgiving ever,”  said Mike Cripe, Jackie M’s Footwear co-owner.

The First Resort held a Black Friday sale, its second, according to proprietor Tali Duford.

“It was a good day, at least three times as good as a normal day,” Duford said, adding that the energy made for a fun environment.

A couple of doors away, at Treasure State Mercantile, clerk Candy Yeater said Black Friday was “extremely slow, not even close to last year.” The store did have a “frenzied rush” or two on Small Business Saturday, she said.

Marilyn Frame, who owns the JC Penney/Hallmark store in Polson, said her store was busier than last year on Friday but Saturday was slower.

All the downtown businesses hoped Small Business Saturday would bring out more customers. Small Business Saturday, an idea put forth by American Express, began in 2009 and is an effort to draw customers to local businesses. Duford said business had been steady at the First Resort.

While it was quiet at All in Stitches on Friday, Saturday was busier, according to Kathie Klinge, who manages the store.

Flathead Lake Cheese held an open house on Small Business Saturday, and owners Wendy and Joe Arnold were pleased with the turnout. Cheesemakers Wendy and Joe and friends provided tours of the bright yellow facility, cut samples of cheese and sold wedges or wheels of their Doorstop gouda and feta.

Both Polson and Ronan business communities have programs to make shopping locally enticing.

The Ronan Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 2012 Holiday Treasures event. People who want to participate may sign up and read the rules at Napa-Ronan Auto Parts, Ronan Sports and Westerns, Arnie’s Gas and Tire, Montana Ace-Ronan, Hanson and Granley True Value, Bishop Insurance, Mission Food Mart and Ronan Power Products. Then when shoppers receive a ticket for each $2 spent buying from Ronan merchants, they put their number on the back of each ticket and enter them in drawings for prizes donated by local merchants. This year, $9,500 worth of prizes are available. Drawings will be held on Dec. 8 at 2:30 p.m. and on Dec. 15 at 2:30 p.m. 

Polson plans a holiday raffle on Dec. 14  at 6:45 p.m. in front of Jackie M’s Footwear. From Oct. 17 to Dec. 18, shoppers accumulate receipts from purchasing items from downtown merchants. 

After reaching $250 in purchases, participants bring their receipts to the Terrace Flowers and Gifts, the UPS Store or Jackie M’s Footwear to be entered in a drawing  for two holiday gift boxes, each containing $1,000 in gift certificates.

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