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The plaid fad

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The plaid fad The plaid fad

Plaid Friday is a relaxing alternative to Black Friday

BANGOR We've read the stories and seen the footage: lines curling for blocks; stampedes of feverish customers trying to be first to grab that hot item; the deals, deals, deals! Black Friday is an annual rush to get the best deal on the shiniest merchandise, and some people live for the rush. And outside of the threat of being trampled, there's nothing wrong with enjoying the thrill of getting that extra-good deal the day after Thanksgiving, while some of us are still sleeping off the turkey hangovers and contemplating pumpkin pie for breakfast.

But that is not everyone's idea of a fun holiday experience. Which is why the Downtown Bangor Partnership is offering a shopping experience that is decidedly different from the one you will find at the Black Friday stores: They have Plaid Friday.

'You can expect a relaxed, inclusive experience,' said Joshua Schmersal, a board member of the Downtown Bangor Partnership. 'It's sort of the anti-Black Friday. We're really trying to let folks know that [Downtown Bangor] is a great place to take your time and enjoy the holiday season. And get a chance to interact with the businesses that you patronize. It's a different kind of shopping experience.'

Sleeping in is encouraged. No one is opening their doors at 4 a.m. And certainly no one is opening on Thanksgiving. There will be no winding lines, though hopefully plenty of people browsing shop-to-shop. It's all about enjoying the shopping experience with friends and family, taking the time to crab a hot beverage or warm meal. And, of course, buy local.

'It's part of our larger campaign: Eat, shop and enjoy. One of the key pieces is enjoy.' We really want people to enjoy themselves and the experiences they have downtown,' said Schmersal. 'We're really looking to have some of our great retailers and get some of our food establishments [participating] as well. One thing you can get people is the gift of experience. We want to see folks going in for gift cards [from restaurants] and have [the eateries] see the benefit of Plaid Friday as well.'

There will be many local shops participating in the shopping event that will then continue into the weekend with Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is a nationwide event that was started by American Express back in 2011 to promote small businesses and help improve sales during the holiday season.

'It is sort of a no-brainer,' said Tracy Monaghan of Metropolitan Soul. 'We're not that crazy rush. Just simply the cool, laid back, come have fun laid back shopping that we all believe in downtown.'

Metropolitan Soul offers great gift items the words 'fun and funky' epitomize just about everything you can find. From unique pieces of jewelry, home accents, art and more if it's fun, beautiful and a little off-kilter, you can find it there. 

Monaghan has always been a fan of the downtown, where she says that if she needs to close for a couple hours, she can put a note on the door and be forgiven by customers and not have to worry about a landlord. She said they plan on having some sales, but also customer appreciation items. She hadn't firmed up what they would be this year, but last year they were offering free massages to customers.

'If you can spend time in downtown, this is where you will feel the love,' she said.

You can also check them out online at www.metsoul.com.

The sheer variety of items you can find at the shops downtown is staggering. Whether you're looking to get shoes, clothing, antiques, books, jewelry, fine dining, soul food or more, the old line, 'there is something for everyone' is actually true except it's not all crammed under one roof. It's spread out, with tendrils of awesome in different nooks and crannies of downtown.

One of the most interesting and unique shops in Bangor is the Rock and Art Shop, which contains everything that the name implies: minerals, fossils and other natural history curiosities as well as art, including paintings, prints, sculpture and more.

Chris Dodd said that Downtown Bangor was always a destination the crew had in mind when they opened the first location in Ellsworth.

'We were very anxious when we first started the business seven years ago [to open in Downtown Bangor], but it just wasn't feasible,' he said. 'We waited until the moment was right. Being downtown is fantastic. We feel like we're working to create a bigger community. [Downtown Bangor] seems to be growing and we're happy to be a part of that growth.'

You can check out the Rock and Art Shop online at therockandartshop.com.

And it's something that isn't only around during the holidays it's a shopping experience you can enjoy year-round. Something you may want to do once you've tried it.

'I have always wanted to have my own business,' said Summer Allen, owner of Valentine Footwear. 'I grew up in a small business family my parents owned a shoe store. This is what runs ion my family. I did my research and found that there was no women's shoes store that was fulfilling the higher-end [items], but not hoity-toity. We carry first-run brands, full-sized rune and have a fun atmosphere.'

Allen is looking forward to the Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday events, as well as the entire festive downtown holiday season.

'It's a very unique community experience. Because of the size of the city, a lot of people know each other. But we also get travelers, business people, medical personnel [and] educational professionals. It's easy to meet people, everyone overlaps and it's not the same as a small town.'

But she says supporting local businesses is something that takes more than a once-a-year nod. They need customers year-round.

'We can't really live on holiday shopping alone,' she said, encouraging shoppers to check in at other times of year and see what's going on.

Find out more about Valentine Footwear by visiting www.valentinefootwear.com.

Plaid Friday is also a way for the Downtown Bangor Partnership to get into the holiday spirit in a big way. There will be carolers, and it's only a few short weeks until the Festival of Lights. Jason Bird of the Bangor Downtown Partnership said that events like Plaid Friday are a great way to introduce people to the downtown area for the first time.

'We always have new shoppers that haven't been to the downtown they never think of it as a destination,' he said. 'We want to remind people that there is more to downtown shopping than just the holiday season.'

Some people are comfortable in their routines and are used to hitting the box stores or going online for their shopping. You can do all that - but instead of hopping on the highway and heading home, head downtown and see what else you can find.

'I was raised in Bangor and have chosen to stay. We constantly hear, I haven't been to Downtown Bangor in years.' What we really want then to realize is that there is so much to do and so many new business,' said Schmersal. 'We want it to be a destination spot. There's so much to do you can't do it all [in one day].'

For more information about the Downtown Bangor Partnership, visit www.downtownbangor.com or find them on Facebook. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 21:42

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