Black Friday is typically the one day per year where shoppers crowd into stores, throwing around money and buying items at insanely low prices. Placerville, however, seems to be anything but typical.
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There appeared to be more Christmas trees tied down to the top of cars than shopping bags, though downtown Main Street was busy. But few of the people had actually purchased anything.
Joanne Madams was with a group of four women, including her mother-in-law, Margaret Madams, and they had made a pact not to buy anything on Black Friday.
“I’m not into it,” Joanne said of the mass shopping day.
“It’s all hype, folklore,” Margaret added, with Joanne agreeing and adding, “There are better deals to be had. We’re not buying anything but lunch.”
Margaret noted that the day really does not matter much to people with limited funds.
“If someone has a limited amount to spend, it if it’s this Friday or next Friday, what difference does it make?”
She also noted that when she turned on the news, instead of getting caught up on world events, all she saw were ads for Black Friday specials. “I saw something on Facebook, someone posted ‘Only in America do people give thanks for what they have and go out and buy things the next day.’”
“It’s almost insulting at this point,” Joanne said. “Lining up at 8 p.m. last night? Really?”
Sterling and Whitnie Evans of Placerville also had no plans of buying anything, though they had bought what looked liked a magazine. Instead, Whitnie said, she had bought movies on Amazon from the comfort of their couch this morning. “I got to sit on my couch, be comfy, it was a beautiful thing,” she said.
Sterling had worked Black Friday when he was employed by Best Buy, turning him off to the shopping spree.
“Ever since then, I don’t shop on Black Friday,” he said. “I just stay at home.”
They were on Main Street only because Whitnie’s mother, Kathy Parsons, was visiting from Lodi and she enjoys the shopping on Main Street, Whitnie said, with a nod from Parsons.
Despite many people seemingly not buying anything, businesses all said they were doing well.
“It’s been pretty good,” said Jeff Meader of Placerville News Co. “The weather is helping tremendously.”
Outside, the skies were mostly clear and it was warm.
“It’s a little busier than usual. There’s a big strike at Wal-Mart. That helps,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe they’ll come downtown instead.”
A book signing, featuring Margie Yee Webb of the Publishing Syndicate and local mystery author Cindy Sample, also drew people to the store. “The book signing, that always helps. There’s fresh popcorn, you can’t beat that,” Meader said. “I don’t know if we’ll make it into the black for the year, but we’re trying.”
Wal-Mart on Missouri Flat Road had no signs of picketers around 2 p.m., with a few people meandering in from the parking lot and a gift wrapping station set outside one of the entrances.
Back on Main Street, Shelly Winzeler of the Wine Smith said that business is “good,” but later in the evening would be better. “It’s going to be a great night. A lot of people go down the hill and come back. Saturday will be a good day, too,” she said. “We’ve been busy. A lot of out-of-towners are visiting.” She said that “tonight’s a crazy night for me” with the lighting of the Christmas tree. “It already feels so much better than last year and the year before. Maybe it’s because of the weather.”
In Camino, Crystal Basin Cellars offered a Black Friday Breakfast, drawing crowds. “It’s been furious ever since,” said owner Mike Owen of the influx of people wanting to taste and purchase wine. “There’s been a lot of people, about as many as Passport,” he said, referring to the annual event that features local wineries, wine specials, demonstrations and art — a major event in the county. “It’s good weather, everyone’s out here and at the (Crystal Basin) Bistro.”