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Thanks, but no sale: Local retailers won’t be open on holiday

While some consumers are signing Facebook pledges to refuse to shop on Thanksgiving, several Spokane store owners are keeping their doors shut on Nov. 28 to underline the same message: It’s a holiday, not a shopping day.

Many large national retail chains have announced plans to open their doors on Thanksgiving evening to “Black Friday” shoppers looking for early bargains. But independent retailers contacted here say they won’t ruin a family holiday in order to generate more sales.

“I can’t say I’d never try to be open on Thanksgiving,” said Paul Fish, owner of Spokane outdoor retailer Mountain Gear. “But I can’t imagine the pushback I’d get from my employees if I did.”

Fish added, “There’s something to being old-fashioned and making sure you give your workers those holidays off.”

The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday because it’s one of the busiest shopping days of the year – putting many retailers “in the black.”

It has long been the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

Retail observers say the decision by more stores to open on Thanksgiving this year is partly due to the later date for that holiday.

Over the next 21 years, the holiday will fall as late as Nov. 28 only four times, including in 2013.

Other Spokane-area retailers here who have no plans to open before Friday include the White Elephant; Huppin’s TV, Camera, Audio and More; the General Store; Auntie’s Bookstore; and Jewelry Design Center.

Issaquah, Wash.-based wholesaler Costco also is not opening on Thanksgiving Day.

Brian Toone, co-owner of Jewelry Design Center, said he’s never even considered opening on Thanksgiving. “I really value the time I have with my family,” he said. He said smaller businesses don’t feel the kind of copycat scheduling pressure that large national retailers do.

He’s also not changing his hours on Black Friday, opening as usual at 10 a.m., Toone said.

“For one thing, we don’t offer specials or sales on our items,” Toone said. “We offer our best prices all the time. That way we tell our customers we don’t play games” with prices, he said.

Bruce Barany, president of the family-owned General Store in north Spokane, said he’s baffled by retailers opening Thanksgiving evening, even if it means gaining a few more sales.

“The box stores can have it,” he said. “We believe Thanksgiving belongs to families. Working on that day is like missing church. You don’t do it.”

Some area grocery stores keep abbreviated hours on Thanksgiving, catering to cooks making dinner-related purchases. Rosauers stores, for instance, will open at 5 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. instead of their usual 11 p.m.

Some national grocery chains, like Safeway, however, will keep normal hours on Thanksgiving. Its stores open at 5 a.m. and close at 1 a.m..

Huppin’s, a longtime electronics retailer, will stay closed on Thanksgiving. Its website OneCall competes with major online retailers in selling consumer electronics.

Company President Murray Huppin said he won’t open a day earlier because he wants to preserve the holiday for his workers. Bringing customers in a day early wouldn’t make a big difference in the long run, he added.

“At the end of the day, my philosophy is that consumers will spend what they will spend, and whether stores open more or less hours won’t change the result, in the end,” he said.

Rich Conley, one of the co-owners of family-owned retailer White Elephant Stores, said he and his partners haven’t even discussed the idea of opening on Thanksgiving Day.

He said the family is not good about adjusting to changes that large.

“It took us 30 years to decide on opening on Sundays during the Christmas retail season,” Conley said.

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