Businesses prepare for holiday shopping season

Businesses prepare for holiday shopping season

Black Friday not as busy, ‘terrifying’ in Juneau as elsewhere, owners say

As soon as the tryptophan wears off and the football is over, many people start preparing for their Black Friday shopping.

For businesses around town, the preparation for holiday shopping season starts long before then. Around Juneau on Wednesday, store owners and employees were decorating and stocking their shelves in advance of the biggest shopping day of the year.

In Juneau, Black Friday is a bit of a perfect combination, a couple business owners said Wednesday. While it’s still a big day for business, it’s not quite the madhouse that it is in some other communities. You’re unlikely to see a viral video of Juneau customers knocking each other down to get a deal.

Anthoney Gurule, the store manager at Fred Meyer, has worked in retail for 20 years in Southern California and Anchorage and said his favorite place to do Black Friday is in Juneau.

“The community makes it an event that’s more exciting than terrifying,” Gurule said. “It’s fun. It’s not something to be dreaded.”

Gurule, who has been in Juneau for a little over a year, said there’s a good energy at Fred Meyer on Black Friday. It isn’t a competition or a mad rush, but just a dedicated group of shoppers looking for a deal, he said.

The store opens at 5 a.m., and Gurule said he usually gets to work at about 4 a.m. On Black Friday last year, he found a line already extending from the middle entrance of the store to the pharmacy. Fred Meyer employees hand out coffee to people in line, he said, and it’s a relaxed, happy group of people.

There’s one more reason to look forward to it this time around, Gurule said.

“I’m excited this year,” Gurule said. “It’s not as cold as last year.”

The action isn’t quite as exciting at Costco, General Manager Aaron Lahnum said. The store is opening an hour early, at 9 a.m., but that’s about the only major change. Lahnum said Juneau’s Costco will have the same sales advertised nationally. Items on sale include refrigerators, laptops, tablets, televisions and vacuum cleaners. Many sales start online on Thanksgiving, and people can go to to find more.

Alaska Airlines has annual Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as well, according to its website, offering discounts on flights. That sale begins Friday.

Downtown, more than a dozen businesses are also opening up a little bit early and are offering free donuts for visitors. The event, coordinated by the Downtown Business Association, is called Deals and Donuts and is meant to give people a place to go before the Public Market opens at noon. Shops will open at 8 a.m.

Deals & Donuts has been successful in bringing people out to downtown the past two years, and DBA Downtown Director Dana Herndon said they hope to make this an annual Black Friday tradition due to its popularity.

Participating businesses include: Annie Kaill’s Gallery; The Bear’s Lair; Ben Franklin; Bustin’ Out Boutique; Downtown Dames; Foggy Mountain Shop; Harbor Tea and Spice; Heritage Coffee Roasting Company; Juneau Artists Gallery; Juneau Drug; Juneau’s Imagination Station; Hearthside Books and Toys; Rainy Retreat Books; Shoefly; and Trove.

Mike Wiley, the owner of Ben Franklin, said they’ll have Black Friday deals and are looking forward to it, but this is more of a warm-up for the biggest downtown event of the holiday season: Gallery Walk.

Gallery Walk, which takes place from 4-9 p.m. Dec. 7 this year, is essentially a block party downtown that offers shopping, artwork, food and live music. Wiley said that the rush of Black Friday has become “watered down” over the years with online shopping becoming more prevalent, but Gallery Walk has continued to be reliable.

“For us, really our Black Friday is Gallery Walk,” Wiley said, “so Black Friday is good for downtown but it’s more a box store kind of thing, and the internet. Gallery Walk is when our big promotion for downtown kicks off.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

Jim Berry looks through the sock display put out for Black Friday sales at Fred Meyer on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Jim Berry looks through the sock display put out for Black Friday sales at Fred Meyer on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Fred Meyer employee Sandy Demmert stocks season items to be ready for Black Friday sales on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Fred Meyer employee Sandy Demmert stocks season items to be ready for Black Friday sales on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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