Towson shopping centers are gearing up for a busy holiday shopping week as Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday approach.
Towson Town Center will be open 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday.
Mall manager Lisa Bisenius said about 70 percent of the mall’s retailers, or about 125 stores, will be open on Thanksgiving. A list of stores and their holiday opening hours can be found on the mall’s website.
The mall started opening for the holiday a “couple years ago,” she said, attributing the shift to “customer demand.”
“The whole pattern of shopping has changed,” Bisenius said. “Black Friday has been stretching out over the course of November and into Thanksgiving.”
Opening on Thanksgiving can be controversial. According to a survey by the website BestBlackFriday.com, more than half of Americans are either indifferent or opposed to stores opening on Thanksgiving.
But Bisenius said the mall opens because customers come.
“They come in full force on that night,” Bisenius said. “If they don’t want to watch a football game or they want to get out of the house, shopping is a good alternative.”
According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. shoppers spent an average of $335.47 each during a five-day period over Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2017.
In keeping with national retail trends, Bisenius said shoppers should expect to see more interactive experiences at the mall for the holidays. Beauty store Riley Rose, for instance, will have designated Instagram locations to take photos throughout the store. Candy retailer Lolli and Pops will offer free samples, she said.
The American Express-created holiday, Small Business Saturday, will have its moment at Towson Town Center too – but the holiday has lent its name to an initiative that started this summer and is spanning through the holiday season.
At Towson Town Center, Bisenius said Small Business Saturdays feature carts with independent small-scale sellers that rotate out each week.
“Instead of having a full-fledged store, they have a cart, come for a weekend and see how business goes,” Bisenius said, saying it is an opportunity for retailers to reach mall customers they would not normally reach. A Local Makers event Dec. 8 will specifically feature local creators including Tracey Beale Jewelry, LBD, Maurita’s Essentials and Bmore Creations.
Small retailers rotating through the holiday season include Woman To Woman Naturals, Paparazzi Accessories, Tomgfashion, Hemp N’ Healthy and Out of Africa.
At The Shops at Kenilworth, which primarily features small-scale sellers, Small Business Saturday will be the main event.
“Small Business Saturdays is always a great day for the Shops at Kenilworth, mostly owner-operated businesses who live in and around the center,” said Joan Denenberg, a spokeswoman for the mall.
Deals that day will include local tastings at Kenilworth Wine and Spirits, a free 4-piece box of candy to the first 50 customers spending $5 or more at Rheb’s Candies and 15 percent off all clothing at Forward Moda.
If you’re missing Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, have no fear. On Dec. 13, Chamber of Commerce director Nancy Hafford said, procrastinators looking to shop at local stores in downtown Towson will have their own holiday shopping event: Procrastinator’s Night.
“We’re hoping people will look locally before they go online,” Hafford said of the holiday season.