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Moderate Black Friday activity expected to pick up for Small Business Saturday

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Guten Tag Haus saw decent sales on Black Friday and anticipates more shoppers on Saturday. The German Smokers are fast becoming the stores most popular item.

NEW ULM — Black Friday is widely considered the biggest shopping day of the year, but this year with the COVID-19 pandemic, the demographics are changing.

Retailers in New Ulm marked a relatively busy Black Friday, but traditionally Small Business Saturday is higher in sales for local businesses. Larger department stores like Walmart typically take greater business on Friday.

The New Ulm Walmart did have fairly steady traffic Friday, but unlike past years, there were no door-buster sales. Walmart was closed Thanksgiving and opened at 7 a.m. Friday morning.

According to the New Ulm Police Departments Twitter page, there was a line of 40 people waiting in line for Walmart to open, but the crowd remained orderly.

This year Walmart intentionally spread out Black Friday sales to avoid large crowds during COVID. The store did see a healthy crowd size, but not level of previous Black Fridays.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Ben Pieser, left, and Karen Larsen stand near a sofa that was recently sold at New Ulm Furniture Co. Friday. With lots of stock, the store will be open daily through Christmas.

Downtown New Ulm was relatively busy. The local stores reported being consistently busy, but most expected Saturday to be even busier.

A to Zinnia held its Christmas Tree Open House. Christmas tree sales started early this year, but sales continued to be high.

Gallery 512 reported consistent sales and expected a busier Saturday with the release of a coupon book. On Friday, the popular items were Sweet Grace Candles and hats.

Bailey Creek Boutique had steady customers on Friday. Boutique owner Sandy Reinke said traffic was consistent with the past few days. Small Business Saturday was traditionally a busy day for the shop. Reinke said they were offering the same sales on Friday and Saturday, which includes 20% off everything in the store.

The most popular item at Bailey Creek was the casual wear clothes like pajama pants. Reinke said with COVID, more people are working from home and are buying clothes that were more comfortable and casual.

Guten Tag Haus anticipated strong Saturday sales, but people were showing up for sales on Friday. The store has several seasonal sales including 15% off German Craft items and ornament sales. The German Smokers were the most popular sales items, even eclipsing the nutcrackers in sales.

Manager Cindy Stabenow said the shop was seeing typically Black Friday crowds which considering the pandemic, was impressive.

“We appreciate the people coming in to support us,” she said.

Inspired experiences a huge rush on Friday. Owner Christina Schwab said this Black Friday was busier than last year and she expected Saturday would be busy as well.

“People are making an effort to come and support local business,” Schwab said.

Christmas decorations were selling well. Schwab said they were selling a lot of ornaments. Mia Moore in the clothing department said jewelry, scarves, sox, and gloves were all popular sales items.

New Ulm Furniture, 16 N. German St. is now open daily to Christmas Day. Weekend hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ve got lots of furniture in stock,” said owner Ben Pieser.

He said customers often come from about a 60-mile radius of New Ulm.

“We sell off the floor and keep stock in a warehouse. People can shop online, on the phone or in person with us,” said Betsy Pieser. “Gratefully, we are continually ordering things so we keep a full warehouse. When something sells on the floor, we put something else in its place,” she said. “Masks are required and social distancing is easy in our large store. People are spending lots of time at home so we are working to find people comfortable, manual and power recliners, sofas, counter height dining tables office furniture and desks for people working from home or students doing distance learning.”

(Fritz Busch contributed to this story).

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