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Should I Open on Gray Thursday?

This year, many business owners are choosing to open on Thanksgiving Day so that shoppers can get a head start on Black Friday shopping. I am going to call it Gray Thursday because, for most business owners, this decision falls in a gray area. I guess we also need a name for the Friday before Black Friday, since Best Buy customers are camping out a full week ahead of the event. On second thought, let’s leave that one alone. Some are even saying we’ve practically created a Black November. So, what is the right move?

For retailers, the business decisions that determine how holiday season sales are handled can be very stressful. You have to find a way to capture those irresistible profits without risking a negative impression either internally or with customers who hold the holidays sacred. If your competition opens on Thursday, will you be able to draw in enough customers on Friday? If you open on Thursday, will employees be upset and customers mark you as just another greedy retailer? If you drop your prices for too long, will you still turn a profit?

The fact is, you can’t know what people will think, and you can’t please everyone. All I can tell you is how we make decisions like this at Spiral Cities. Basically, we take our defined core values and live by them. Sometimes that means missing out on some new business; but, mostly, it solidifies our business character. People know who we are and what they can expect every time they do business with us. Now, keep in mind that we are not a retailer; so, we do not have the same weighty decision at hand. The point though, is to have a clear definition of who you are and the consumers will respect you for the decisions you make, and hopefully reward you with purchases all year long. If you don’t do Black Friday or Gray Thursday, there are other ways to effectively bring in business.

If you are familiar with Chick-Fil-A, you know that they are closed on Sundays, despite the crowds of people who eat there regularly and are likely hungry on Sunday too. But, they made a decision to be closed on Sundays, and another business may choose be closed on Tuesdays. Are they losing business? Of course they are. However, making a business profitable is something that happens in the long run, with or without a particular day of the week, and possibly even without Black Friday.

I am definitely not advocating closing up shop for the entire Black Weekend. I am just suggesting that a solid business can choose to avoid the madness, or to go all out and satisfy the consumer demand without sacrificing the principles it was built on.