Despite the heavy rain and the absence of doorbuster sales, the Murphys shopping scene was in full swing the day after Thanksgiving, as festive folks filled every parking spot and warmly-lit boutique with a laid-back variety of holiday cheer.
“We serve a different kind of shopper,” said Jill Seale, owner of Sierra Nevada Adventure Co. on Main Street, Murphys. “They’re looking for a small town experience. If they wanted big box shopping, they’d go to another county.”
Observing Black Friday isn’t advantageous for small, independent businesses, Seale said. Her outdoor apparel store offers good values and a sale rack all year round, and selling out would make it difficult to restock inventory in time for the rest of the holiday season.
Although Murphys is always good for business during weekends, Thanksgiving weekend is one of the biggest of the year, Seale said.
This Nov. 23rd, the wet weather and the early opening of the Bear Valley ski resort created the perfect storm for her business, with people crowding in to stock up on winter boots and waterproof jackets.
“Anything that’s good for the mountain is good for us,” said owner of Creative Cookware, Barbara Blume.
The busiest day of the year changes every year, Blume said, but November and December are always the busiest months.
And even though none of the Murphys business owners are in the “mindset” to set up a Black Friday sale, Blume added, the nationwide designated deal day is still always one of those busiest days.
“We come here two to three times a month,” said holiday shopper David Rowley of Lodi.
He and his children headed up to Murphys along with his wife, Betty, to celebrate her birthday with some wine tasting and leisurely shopping.
When asked if he and his family were missing out on those sweet holiday deals, Rowley replied, “Not a chance. We avoid Black Friday at all costs.”
However, not all of the customers came to the quaint little town to peruse and make merry.
According to Seale, some of the shoppers she encountered were escaping the devastation and smoke of the Camp Fire in Butte County. Some were staying in cabin rentals in Arnold and descending the hill to purchase essentials.
The suffering caused by the fire was not far from people’s minds as they bustled through a crisp day in late Autumn that could easily be taken for granted.
Many of the store counters displayed donation boxes for the Camp Fire victims. Organized by the Murphys Business Association, Seale’s store has pledged to match $1,000 in donations when that amount is reached.
“It’s all about shopping local,” Seale said.
Her business makes other donations to the local community throughout the year, Seale added. Supporting local shops like hers also supports those investments.
“Small businesses give back in different ways,” Seale said.