The only stampede 'round these parts on Black Friday would be if someone's cattle got through a fence on Hwy. 183. Now, that's not to say that Walmart won't be full, but it's likely nothing that we've come to see online from the big-box big-city department stores when shoppers are pressed upon the glass entry doors like a bug on a Chevy windshield.
Most of us would choose to be chased by actual stampeding cows, not acting like one in an Ikea.
Lucky for Gonzales, there are a number of small business opportunities to shop in between the hours of carving up the last bite of turkey and untangling string lights. Local shopkeepers are interested in snagging their own piece of the Black Friday crowd while hoping that it spills over into “Small Business Saturday.”
Things will be hopping early Friday in downtown Gonzales. For one, boutique clothier Angels and Outlaws will be opening their doors at 7 a.m. They insist that you get there as early as possible, as they are hosting their annual pajama party so that you can waste little time from waking up to cashing out.
“Last year we had people waiting at the door,” said Amy Cernosek, co-owner of the store. “They just know we do something really good that day.”
She was speaking of the deals that they are known for, such as early-bird half-off pricing and prize drawings throughout the day, not to forget the mimosa and margarita bar they will have going. Such gimmicks have become a part of Black Friday as shopkeepers look for inventive ways to get patrons through their doors. It equals a good time and a day that ranks as one of the most profitable of the year.
Down the street, the St. George Deli is looking to capitalize on the early risers, but not just for this weekend. The new cafe and coffee shop has permanent hours of 6 a.m.-2 p.m. for their drive-thru and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. for indoor service. For convenience, drive-thru customers are encouraged to call ahead to place their orders.
“It's going well. We've gotten into a good rhythm,” says Manda Leal, who led a small tour of her family's newest venture. The deli offers soups, sandwiches, breakfast pastries, and a bevy of beverages from coffee, espresso, teas, and smoothies. They have wifi for customers who want to come in to do a little work, and offer outdoor seating — when they weather is good — under the new awning, which was part of a Main Street Gonzales business grant.
There's also a large room that will be available for parties and events, as well as a dining room for smaller private dining engagements.
The building, which in past lives has held a Ford dealership and beer distributorship, amongst others, is now an incubator for other small business. Up front, Shelli Van Kirk runs her Purple Cactus Potteri studio, where groups can arrange their own pottery-decorating parties. And just for the occasion, Van Kirk has special holiday bowls, ornaments, and Santa cookie plates that customers can paint themselves before she kilns and glazes them and are ready for use.
“We've got a lot of different things going on,” said Leal.
The deals continue down in Nixon, and Loyce and Harold Rice are getting into it with a couple of their businesses gearing up for the holidays.
“We're a small town store and we're trying to make it bigger, little by little, adding pieces to it,” said Loyce, who runs a trio of shops with her husband, who is also the city manager. Texas Outfitters has been operating over a year-and-a-half, and deals in mens clothing of the Western variety, as well as wear for the oilfield set. You'll find brands like Wrangler, Cinch, Ariat, Costa, and Hooey. Inside, the Cutting Edge Salon and Spa occupies a corner where Loyce offers trims and more, which has been a Nixon staple since 2011. Next door is the Texas Bottle Haus, a liquor store that just celebrated three years in existence. The Rices built the building which houses all three and are looking to expand soon so they can offer more.
The local couple chose to start a small business after working out of town for a few years. Adaptation to the needs of the community led them to their current format, and they are looking forward to welcoming new and returning visitors on Friday with ice chest and gift basket drawings, clothing deals up to 45 percent off, and treats like Fireball fudge and wine and champagne samples.
Asked how hard it is for two people to run three businesses, Loyce said that they rely on their employees to help balance the act.
“Sometimes it gets a little crazy, but it works out,” she said.
Of course that's not all of the businesses looking to offer deals this Black Friday, for there are shops from here to Luling and Shiner that have things going on. But if you absolutely feel the need to brave the city traffic and trampling, there's plenty out there for your pocket book until the cows come home. Just remember: most dollars spent locally tend to stay local. No bull.