Limited capacity, push for online and local shopping among Black Friday changes in Ann Arbor area

Limited capacity, push for online and local shopping among Black Friday changes in Ann Arbor area

ANN ARBOR, MI – An annual event of savings on electronics, clothing and household items commonly known as Black Friday will continue amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But like most everything this year, it will be a little different.

Masses traditionally race to line up at major retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and shopping malls for great deals and cost savings on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. However, the pandemic and spiking cases across Michigan have led to state-ordered restrictions on gatherings and guidelines for shoppers.

But, no matter if you like shopping at big-box stores, shopping malls or in downtowns — or even if you’re preferring online options this year due to coronavirus — the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas have something for you.

Local businesses are especially urging shoppers to support them this season.

Ypsilanti is offering free downtown parking through Thanksgiving weekend, along with 15-minute designated spaces for pickup orders at restaurants and stores, said Bonnie Wessler, public services project manager. Ypsilanti’s Downtown Development Authority also has an incentive program.

Customers shopping at select local businesses can scan a QR code and be entered in a drawing to win a $50 gift card to any DDA business, said Christopher Jacobs, DDA director.

“We will be giving out 25 of these $50 gift cards over the next several weeks through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday shopping seasons,” Jacobs said.

Mark Teachout, who opened Wax Bar in August in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town, is having a “Black Friday Record Store Day.

“I will also be having some specials on the records and to-go cocktails for that day,” Teachout said. “I’ll be selling turntables for people, with the resurgence of the younger generation listening to records now. We’ll be running specials. It’s definitely a good place to come and get gifts.”

Teachout’s business started off strong, he said, until COVID-19 case spikes led to more business restrictions and less activity, which is why he urges the people to think of their local shops before major retailers this holiday season.

“People that live in the community can generally, within a minute or so, can get to all your businesses,” Teachout said. “Ypsilanti is unique that it’s all local businesses. You’re putting money directly in the hands of people who are struggling to pay their mortgages and keep their businesses open to feed their kids.”

Ann Arbor organizations have compiled the Show Your Love guide, which encourages shoppers to support small businesses in Ann Arbor by offering a list of places open for the season. Downtown shopping will continue for Midnight Madness in December, when stores will stay open late and offer discounts during the first three Fridays.

“Everyone has a favorite Downtown Ann Arbor memory, whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day at Conor O’Neill’s or Ashley’s, or walking around Kerrytown Shops and stopping at Zingerman’s for lunch,” Frances Todoro director of the State Street District, said in a statement. “We want to keep the nostalgic charm of Ann Arbor thriving.”

Briarwood Mall also is open for Black Friday sales this year and will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Stores are offering a variety of deals on apparel, sweets, accessories and more . Customers can opt for in-person shopping, curbside pickup or in-store pickup, spokeswoman Carley Andrews said in an email.

Electronics retailer Best Buy, 3100 Lohr Road in Ann Arbor, began Black Friday promotions early and is spreading them throughout the month to reduce crowds. Customers have the option of online ordering, curbside pickup, in-store pickup, same- and next-day delivery through the website.

Anyone choosing “curbside pickup” can park in a designated area and confirm their arrival through the Best Buy app for a team member to deliver the order. The company is also enforcing safety mandates, including limited capacity, which Michigan’s latest order reduces to 30% of total occupancy.

Employees and customers are required to wear masks. Customers without masks will be provided with one. Employees will regularly clean surfaces and provide sanitizing wipes near high-touch displays if customers wish to wipe them down before using them.

Walmart also revamped Black Friday this year by offering discounts for several days.

Deals have been running all month and will continue from Nov. 25-27. Customers can find deals on or in stores, and have the option to use curbside pickup. Walmart can be found locally at 7000 E. Michigan Ave.

Walmart is requiring staff and customers to wear masks. Aside from employee temperature checks and screenings, other measures include plexiglass barriers at checkout lanes and the pharmacy, floor decals marking six feet, regular cleaning and sanitizing, and limiting store capacity to 20%, spokesman Casey Staheli said in an email.


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