Amherst and Northampton businesses plan for Black Friday deals

'Tis the sales season

Courtesy of the Downtown Northhampton Association's official Facebook page

Courtesy of the Downtown Northhampton Association's official Facebook page

By Irina Costache, Collegian Staff

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From Nov. 24 to Dec. 1, Northampton and Amherst will be celebrating local businesses with special holiday deals, free parking in Amherst and even an appearance from Santa.

Though Black Friday is traditionally seen as an event dominated by big box and mall stores, the Amherst Business Improvement District and the Downtown Northampton Association are collaborating with local businesses to promote and organize shopping events. The Town of Amherst Select Board has also granted five Saturdays of free parking, starting on Nov. 24.

The first event is Small Business Saturday, on Nov. 24.

Ann Tweedy, marketing director of ABID, said that Small Business Saturday is part of a national campaign by American Express to promote shopping at ‘Mom & Pop’ shops. Both Amherst and Northampton will be participating.

The second is Pack the Sack Day. On Dec. 1, participating shops and restaurants in Amherst will be giving a 20 percent off discount. The idea is that customers will fill up a sack with local goods.

According to Tweedy, before Pack the Sack Day even begins, ABID will be handing out sacks at the Lighting of the Merry Maple on Nov. 30. Sacks will also be available at the Visitors Information Center on the day of. People do not need to bring a sack to be eligible for the discount.

The Blue Marble, has been busy prepping for Pack the Sack Day. According to owner Cathie Waltz, the store has received shipments from over 50 companies and artists over the past two weeks, including hundreds of ornaments and other holiday-related items.

ABID will also be bringing in Santa and a helper elf to visit shops during the day. Brass street band Prone to Mischief will also be performing.

Amy Cahillane, executive director of the Association, said there’s something about the holiday season that brings the community closer together.

“The experience of walking downtown, looking at the decorated windows, stopping in small stores where you can meet the owner, learn about the items they carry and get personal assistance and recommendations in selecting gifts – and where the gifts themselves are more unique than what you would find at the mall – all add to community engagement with local businesses.”

Irina Costache can be reached at [email protected]