Clayton Editor Heads to Quiet Blackhawk for Black Friday

While the rest of the world was going crazy for Black Friday, Blackhawk was taking it easy.

You know that feeling.

You've waited in line all night for a sale. You've planned your in-store strategy. You know exactly where to go to get that once-in-a-lifetime deal.

The doors open! The cattle, I mean people, start filing into the store. The heart begins to race.

Well, I have no idea what that feeling is like. Historically, Black Friday is the day I recover from my turkey hangover and watch preseason college basketball tournaments.

I'm not much of a shopper. I like fantasy football, Michael Mann movies and drinking with my high school buddies as we talk about fantasy football and Michael Mann movies.

But not this Black Friday! This Black Friday, as a Patch editor I'm out with the shoppers — of at least I thought I would be. And I'm doing it in Blackhawk, which is sort of cool because I've never been to Blackhawk.

Anyway, Blackhawk Plaza at 9:30 a.m. wasn't exactly hopping for Black Friday. In truth, it was dead. Stoneridge Shopping Center has more people on a Tuesday afternoon in July. There might have been more ducks in the Plaza's extravagent man-made creek than actual human beings (a slight exaggeration, but not much of one).

How could this be? Maybe with all this attention to the 99 percent, we reporters have forgotten about the people that actually make money. I needed to get to the bottom of this. Has Blackhawk been neglected? Do people need to Occupy Blackhawk?!

I went into one of the Plaza's high-end stores that had two people in it. I talked with the one clerk in the store, who declined to give her name for fear of retaliation (a smart move).

"Sometimes I'm in here for three hours and no one comes in," the clerk said.

"Today has been a little busier than that. We had three people in at the same time this morning. But that's how it should be every day, not just when we have everything 50 percent off."

This business at least wasn't closed. Thoughout the Plaza, there's a lot of empty commercial real estate. And, from talking to people, it's been like this for awhile.

Edie Odell is a teacher and has lived in the Blackhawk area for more than 20 years. She loves Blackhawk Plaza but says the business turnover has been constant. (Read a on this issue that generated dozens of comments about the problem.)

"I think people from out of the area think we just have a bunch of hoity-toity stores," Odell said. "There's some of that, but we have normal stores, too. (Blackhawk Plaza) is kind of a gem that nobody knows about."

Some stores did have a decent amount of foot traffic. , the hip women's clothing store, looked busy but was by no means overwhelmed. And Starbucks, like just about every other Starbucks on Earth, was packed.

(A tangent — While writing this column in Starbucks, I saw San Francisico Giants announcer Duane Kuiper. I contemplated for quite some time the pros and cons of asking him questions about Blackhawk's Black Friday problem. In the end, I decided it would just be too weird. A decision I now regret.)

With foot-traffic being so low on what is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, I emailed the Plaza's marketing director Betsy Penson to see what's up.

"Unfortunately some of the retailers that opened in the last couple of years, didn't understand the market or didn't have the resources to survive in the current economy," Penson said.

But Penson said the situation is improving, with the recent additions of national retailers like Apricot Lane, Francesca's Collections, Chocolatier Blue, InSpa and Claire's.

"The traffic driven by these more well-known brands, complements our existing mix of local shops and we believe will help them thrive as well," Penson said.

Time will tell, and though there weren't a ton of shoppers, there were quite a few kids. Blackhawk Plaza has a playground, and Santa was in the house taking Christmas present requests. Throw in the creek with all the ducks, and the Plaza is pretty cool place for the under-7 demographic.

"This is just a nice place for families," Christina Mordoff, 26, said as she sipped her coffee in the Plaza. "There's just an odd assortment of stores here. I do like Anthropologie and the book store, but I don't spend a lot of time here."

With Christina was Ryan Mordoff, who might have hit the nail on the head on Blackhawk's Black Friday's troubles.

"There is no Best Buy or Walmart here," Ryan said. "I would assume those are the places people want to go on Black Friday to get a great deal on a TV or something."

True. You're not going to get a 42-inch flat screen for $300 at Blackhawk Plaza, and, in my short period of time here, Blackhawkians seem OK with that.

The shopping center's tree lighting featuring Dave Martin's House Party is scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Family Fun Day, with a facepainter and balloon twister, is 1-4 p.m. Sunday.

Kevin Keeler November 26, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Your right about one thing Patrick, drinking with one’s high school buddies and watching Michael Mann movies is way more fun than Black Friday. Come to think of it, cleaning the bird cage is more fun than Black Friday.


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