A different take on Black Friday: Shop Local

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Black Friday, the most ballyhooed shopping day of the year, offers door-busting deals. But sneaking out to the mall in predawn darkness only to get fight the crowds at the mall, does not make for a great holiday tradition. Show your support for community by shopping local this year. Here’s a handful of Maine alternatives to big box store madness.

Move over Black Friday, here comes Plaid Friday.

Created a few years ago in Oakland, California, Plaid Friday strives to shift focus from chain stores to community retailers. So it’s fitting that a mill town like Biddeford is embracing the concept this year.

Art space, Engine holds a Plaid Friday popup bursting with handmade items from local crafters. “We have a focus on wood,” said Tammy Ackerman, whose window showcases finely crafted pieces from furniture maker Gabriel Keith Sutton, and pillows from local designer Hills and Trails Co. “I hope to be mobbed this weekend,” said Ackerman. “Support local mom and pop shops, the money goes further into the community.” Engine, 128 Main St., Biddeford.

Other independent businesses in the village are joining the plaid parade. Up the street, Elements: Books, Coffee, Beer holds a book annex Friday, which runs for a month. Grab a coffee and a hot tome for the holidays.

At The Not So Empty Nest in Bangor, owner Melinda Frost is offering 10 percent off

all Maine pantry items for Plaid Friday and Shop Small Saturday. Think Northwoods Gourmet Girl products, local honey, maple sugar, even the famous Bangor Brownie Mix from New England Cupboard. Every person to set foot in this unique boutique on Hammond Street will receive a handmade wooden ornament made by Frost. “I want to thank people for giving back to the community,” said Frost. The Not So Empty Nest, 624 Hammond St., Bangor is open Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At Bliss in Portland’s Old Port the holidays jumped the gun. On Wednesday the contemporary women’s apparel shop slashed prices — 10 percent off everything in the store, including cashmere sweaters and winter jackets. All Frye boots are 15 percent off, and denim is 20 percent off. Beyond the deals, fun is in large supply. “Everyone is happy, drinking coffee, eating food. It kicks off the holiday season,” said Michelle Marchesi, general manager. “It brings a lot of dollars into the local economy. So, stay downtown instead of heading out to the mall.” Bliss, 58 Exchange St., Portland will be open from 10 to 8 p.m. on Friday.

On the same block, Little, the hyper-cute kids’ boutique, is also offering an alternative to bland mall store merch with big discounts on small fashion.  

Shopping for kids? Little boutique on Exchange Street is the place.

The fun shop sells an array of stylish clothes for newborns to tweens. Sales are 30 percent off all outfits, and select shoes, like canvas Toms, for your mini me. Like it’s sister shop Bliss, the sale has already begun. Little, 42 Exchange St., Portland.

Now, sleep in on Friday and give thanks to local retailers!

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.