By Kelly Moyer
CAMAS — It’s Black Friday, but shoppers in downtown Camas aren’t battling for parking or standing in long lines inside packed ‘big box’ chain stores.
Instead, these shoppers are enjoying a long brunch, strolling the downtown streets with friends and family and, of course, finding some great sales inside the locally owned, ‘small box’ shops that line the streets of downtown Camas.
“We call it Little Box Friday,” says Beth Forsythe, owner of Lizzabeth A, a home décor and furniture shop located in the heart of downtown Camas at 339 N.E. 4th St. “It’s wonderful for the merchants, but it’s also a good experience for the people who come here.”
Laura Gilbert, Forsythe’s employee at Lizzabeth A, says the annual Little Box Friday event, held the day after Thanksgiving, as well as the “Shop Small Saturday” events planned for Sat., Nov. 26, are a great way to introduce people to the joy of shopping at a small, locally owned shop instead of big box store.
“If people only shop the big boxes, the small stores will close,” Gilbert says, adding that, without small, locally owned shops, customers would find a limited selection of goods. “Small shops can carry the unique things that we know our customers want to see.”
The Little Box Friday event, which is happening from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., today, Fri., Nov. 25, offers coupons, sales specials, gifts and a raffle drawing with extra tickets for every $10 spent at participating shops.
Customers who bring receipts from downtown Camas merchants totaling $100 — from goods purchased during the Little Box Friday event — to the Liberty Theatre, also in downtown Camas, will receive two free movie tickets. The receipts must be turned in by 8 p.m., Fri., Nov. 25 and the free tickets are good through Dec. 31, 2016.
On Sat., Nov. 26, downtown Camas merchants will begin their Golden Ticket Event. For every $25 a customer spends at a participating downtown Camas “small box” store between Nov. 26 and Dec. 16, they will receive a “golden ticket.”
Merchants collect the golden tickets at their individual shops and a drawing for a $50 gift certificate from that specific shop will be held on Dec. 16. The drawing for the grand prize — a $150 gift certificate to be used at any of the participating downtown Camas shops — will be held on Dec. 19.
Forsythe says the annual Little Box Friday event has been going on for at least six of the 11 years she’s been in business, and that this year’s “shop small” push seems to be bringing even more people out than in past years.
“I’m used to it being sort of quiet in the morning, but this year people are shopping earlier,” Forsythe says. “It’s been busy so far.”
Bobbi Lee, owner of Allure Boutique, a women’s apparel shop down the street from Lizzabeth A, says she has only been in business for five months, so this is her first experience with the Little Box Friday event, but that the day seems to be busier than she expected.
“It’s been a very good day so far,” Lee says. “But I live in Camas, so I know that the people here really care about their downtown and are so supportive of local businesses. I wouldn’t really have wanted to open [a small business] anywhere else.”
Gilbert, at Lizzabeth A, agrees with Lee’s assessment of the Camas community. She says many local families bring their visiting relatives and out-of-town friends to shop in downtown Camas.
“We have some regulars from California who come here each year,” Gilbert says. “I think people bring their families here when they’re visiting. They’re not taking them to Macy’s or a big box store. They bring them down here. Because the small shops are unique.”
To find a list of participating retailers, visit the Downtown Camas site.