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Biz Buzz: Shoppers, mild temps combine for Black Friday

Shoppers arrive at T.J. Maxx in Baxter on the morning of Black Friday. This is the shopping center's first holiday season after opening this fall. Down the street, J.C. Penney sits empty on Black Friday for the first time in its long history in the lakes area after closing this year. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 2
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Black Friday shoppers were out in force Thursday night and Friday morning in the lakes area.

Before 10 p.m., groups of shoppers were heading into Kohl's and parking lots were busy from Big Lots and Dunham's to Target to Walmart as shoppers looked for deals to start the traditional holiday shopping season. Rafferty's Pizza was welcoming shoppers into the Westgate mall promising an alternative to leftover turkey for shoppers and for those wanting to get off the couch after a succession of three NFL games.

They were greeted with mild temperatures in the upper 30s on Thanksgiving and Black Friday brought a mix of sun and rain. Parking lots continued to be full well into the morning Friday, boding well for retailers. This year marks the first season without J.C. Penney in the mix after the retailer closed its Baxter store earlier this year, and just when J.C. Penney may have benefited from more shopping nearby with the addition of Ulta Beauty, PetSmart and T.J. Maxx now across the street. Dick's Sporting Goods, next to T.J. Maxx, won't open until 2018.

Shoppers were doing more than window looking as a number of truck beds were filled with kayaks and paddleboards in the traffic flow Friday morning.

Black Friday continues to fracture and evolve from a rush of shoppers in the predawn darkness into something shoppers may find even better—multiple days of deals from Thanksgiving into the weekend.

This Saturday, Nov. 25, marks another part of the equation with the focus on small businesses. "Small Business Saturday is about supporting local businesses and creating jobs in communities all across America," said Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, in a news release. "Shopping small this Saturday is the perfect opportunity for Americans to support their local community businesses and promote growth and vitality to America's booming economy during this holiday season and throughout the coming year."

This year marks the eighth Small Business Saturday, an annual celebration of America's small business community. Last year on Small Business Saturday, an estimated 112 million Americans spent a combined $15.4 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants, the SBA reported.

Even if consumers, who rarely leave a diet of big box stores, would just make a point to venture into one of the lakes area small businesses a few times this season—perhaps picking a store they've never be in or a place they may have missed for some time just to see what they have to offer—the difference could be immense to local business owners and workers. So this weekend think of shopping small to make a big difference.

And for those who hear about the efforts for revitalization in downtown Brainerd and elsewhere—that are going into building a stronger community—and wonder how they can make a difference, shopping small is one way people can contribute.

"Small businesses are the engine of our national economy. We now have in the United States about 30 million small businesses. About half of all American workers are either employed by a small business or own a small business. And two out of three new jobs are created by small business. Those are pretty powerful and compelling statistics," said McMahon.

"One of my goals in leading the U.S. Small Business Administration is to revitalize a sense of entrepreneurship in America. We want entrepreneurs to feel confident taking a risk on starting or expanding their small businesses. Everyone wants businesses to grow and for people to be employed. Shopping small on Nov. 25 supports these men and women who create the foundation for strong, successful small businesses."

For more Small Business Saturday details visit