Voices

Business owner organizing Black Friday challenge

Deborah DiBernardo talks about her ideas to keep Black Friday shopping money in the local economy.  (Christopher Anderson)
Deborah DiBernardo talks about her ideas to keep Black Friday shopping money in the local economy. (Christopher Anderson)

Event promotes shopping locally

Black Friday is the day shoppers traditionally go running frantically all over town for the best deal on everything from toasters to LEGOs to yard furniture to pantyhose. On this particular Black Friday, there’s a group of local business owners who’ve gotten together to shift some of the shopping frenzy the local way.

And it’s all Deborah DiBernardo’s idea.

“I thought, hey, we’ll just have a great party and give local artists and artisans a place to sell their great stuff,” said DiBernardo, one of the owners of Roast House Coffee. “I started it before I talked to anybody, and then I discovered there were all these details about how to get the word out and all that – I was writing up posters as I developed the idea.”

The Black Friday Local Shopping Challenge is based at Roast House Coffee at 423 E. Cleveland Ave. Auntie’s Bookstore, Sun People Dry Goods, Cassano’s and Atticus are also part of the promotion.

Shoppers can pick up a punch card at any participating local business, collect eight hole-punches, and enter the card in a drawing for a prize.

But the punch card isn’t required. “You can also just stop by,” DiBernardo said.

One of the artists at Roast House is Janelle King of Lemuria Handmade Crafts.

“I sell knitted stuff, like fingerless gloves and hats, and some bags and some aprons,” said King. “Last year around this time of the year I was unemployed for a while, so I took the plunge and opened an Etsy store. I always wanted to own my own business.” Shortly thereafter, King was hired full time by the Main Market Co-op, but she’s not giving up on her own business.

“I find time to do it,” said King. “Most of the things I’ve sold, I’ve sold at the farmers market or at other local table events. I like the smaller venues – I’m down for being a guinea pig for local Black Friday shopping this first time around.”

Roast House will be releasing a special holiday coffee blend, The Nutcracker Suite, which comes in a reusable glass jar for $13.

“We are only going to sell it at Roast House,” said DiBernardo.

Participating businesses will all have specials and treats ready for their customers.

“Cassano’s is making cannelloni. I can’t wait to have some of them,” said DiBernardo, whose family is from Sicily.

DiBernardo has a background as a paralegal in divorce and bankruptcy law, but she grew up in her family’s restaurant. In Spokane, she owned and operated the Broadway Deli for years but lost it when she divorced.

Roast House Coffee will be one year old on Jan. 4.

“I guess I am just concerned about local businesses,” DiBernardo said. “Some are having a really hard time. It seems like anybody with a slightly better price point gets shopped, but we overlook local businesses.”



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