Surviving Black Friday with Coffee

When friends and families come together for a Thanksgiving meal, several important questions must be answered: Should the turkey be roasted or smoked? How many pies is too many pies? Are we going shopping later? For many consumers, Black Friday shopping is a beloved tradition or a can’t-miss opportunity to grab gifts on sale, but in recent years, the commercial holiday has grown beyond the confines of its designated calendar date.

Despite a few retailers resisting the pressure this year, some are opening on Thanksgiving Day as early as 5 p.m. and staying open until midnight or later, then re-opening in the early hours of Friday morning. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Thanksgiving weekend statistics, more than 150 million consumers shopped between Thursday and Sunday. On Black Friday, 75 million people shopped in stores and another 75 million shopped online, with nearly 35 percent of adult shoppers visiting stores on Thanksgiving Day.

National Holiday, Local Coffee

Shopping late on Thanksgiving or early on Black Friday will probably make consumers seek out America’s favorite caffeinated beverage for a little help keeping their eyes peeled for a great deal. There are also millions of retail associates, public service workers, and federal employees who work on Thanksgiving and want to indulge in their own coffee routine.

It’s no secret that national chains like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are open on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, but consumers who want to support local stores ahead of Small Business Saturday are able to turn to neighborhood coffee shops for their caffeine fuel.

Businesses staying open on Thanksgiving are most often criticized for not letting employees have the day off to spend time with friends and family. The Red Bicycle in Nashville, Tenn., is open on Thanksgiving Day, but owner David Trett doesn’t require any employees to work on the holiday.

“I am the person who works that day,” Trett tells us. “I do the same on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If someone is in town and wants to work with me, then absolutely they can. But I’m the only person who ever has to work those shifts. I will never ask an employee to do that.”

According to owner Abram Curtis, Spill the Beans, a combination coffee shop and ice creamery in Greenville, S.C., opens on Thanksgiving only when its employees’ schedules allow.

“This year, many of our staff will be out of town visiting family, [so] our Thanksgiving hours will be shortened,” Curtis tells us. “On holidays, most people are very grateful we are open when others are closed. Tips on those days tend to make working beneficial for my staff, as well.”

There may be less competition for sales because most small businesses are closed on holidays, but profit doesn’t necessarily factor into a coffee shop’s decision to open.

“I do it to be open for the people that want coffee, a break from the family, get out of the house, whatever it is,” Trett says.

“We want to serve Greenville the best we can, and we know that holidays bring family and friends to town,” Curtis explains. “Greenvillians love to show off our downtown, so we know there will be people out and about downtown on Thanksgiving.”

Like many small business owners, Dana Lowie, owner of Coffee Underground in Greenville, S.C., prefers to close on Thanksgiving Day and open for a busy Black Friday.

“We are only closed two days every year, and we need the break,” Lowie says. “We do not offer any [Black Friday] deals because our traffic is already heavy, and people don’t mind spending here. Black Friday sales have remained steady, although last year’s sales didn’t increase as in years before.”

Despite the changing habits of shoppers, the Thanksgiving holiday remains a busy time for local coffee shops.

“This whole week is generally a pretty busy week,” Curtis tells us. “Because of our downtown location, we don’t typically run too many promos. We don’t think it gets any better than to stop into Spill the Beans and get a coffee or ice cream while touring Greenville.”

Whether you’re showing your city to out-of-town family, spending the holiday with friends, grabbing coffee on the way to work, or fueling up to shop, you can find a local coffee shop and enjoy that hot beverage while supporting a business in your community.

Ariana Keller
Ariana Keller

Ariana Keller was raised on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in south Alabama, where she learned to fish and love football. She moved to Knoxville with her family when she was 12 and later graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor's degree in English. She spends her free time playing tabletop and video games and passionately rooting for mediocre sports teams. She is an advocate for animal rescue and lives in Knoxville with her husband and their two adopted pets: a hound dog named Beau and a Maine Coon mix named Vesper.