Black Friday is the first offical shopping day of the holiday season. But with hundreds of great shops on and near Bloomfield Avenue and other "Main Streets", the day after Thanksgiving doesn't have to mean a trip to the mall or a big box store. Have a more charming and traditional experience by taking your dollars to local downtowns.
Since Christmas truly is a child’s holiday, it’s only right to put toys at the top of this guide to what local shops are offering:
Learning Express stores in Montclair, Verona, and the new location in West Caldwell are offering 20% to 50% off select items and free gifts with the purchase of certain toys. The stores also boast a number of toys that are Learning Express exclusives, like the ever-popular All Duct Out Kit of fashion accessories kids can create from brightly colored duct tape and the timeless Shrinky Dinks Santa’s Workshop Kit with over 50 holiday designs and pop-up play-set. In addition, the Verona location has recently dedicated a section of the store to discounted items for year-round deals. Learning Express is open this Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Next up is Aunt Jean’s Toys & Treats, which has a number of Black Friday specials. From 9 a.m. till noon, the Montclair store is taking 25% off merchandise storewide. Then from noon to 6 p.m. shoppers can take 25% off Playmobile. All those shopping on Friday will be entered to win a $100 gift card from the store. For the first time this year, Aunt Jean’s is offering gift wrap service—but her service will extend to include not only store items, but also any gift in need of wrapping customers bring along with them to the store. To launch the new service, Aunt Jean’s is offering to wrap up to 10 items free for the first 10 people who bring gifts to the store on Friday. Store hours for Friday are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
For the slightly older set, head over to Hip Chic in Montclair for the latest in trendy teen and tween apparel and accessories. The store is offering $10 off a purchase of $50 or more and has all the hot items from Animal Tracks hats with attached scarves and mittens to fashionable fur vests to purses, pillows and pencil cases. Store hours for Friday are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If trendy fashions aren't for the people on your list, you can find more serious gifts along with great deals at watchung booksellers. The bookstore’s sale, though, is for members only, but you can easily become a member for free that day by signing up for their email newsletter. You'll also need to know the secret password, but I can let you in on that—it’s "Festivus." Members who say "Festivus" at the register can enjoy 20% off everything, and that includes novelty items, toys and t-shirts printed with the original cover designs of such classic books as Catch 22, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Clockwork Orange and Animal Farm. The crew at Watchung is furiously working away to prepare for the day compiling their book recommendations for everyone on your list. From the voracious reader to the smart, but reluctant teen in your life, the staff will be ready to assist you with their suggestions available online and in person on Friday. Store hours for Friday are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
While in Montclair make your way over to Church Street where you just might be able to polish off your list with the broad array of offerings found on this single block. Culture Couture is taking up to 80% off selected items and is open for a full 12 hours on Friday. Hours for Friday are from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. People’s Store is sure to please with their sale of up to 80% off items storewide. You'll also find an entire separate sale room where all merchandise is reduced. Store hours for Friday are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. A few doors down, Chez Renee is throwing a four-day sale starting Wednesday with 20% to 50% off select merchandise. Store hours for Friday are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Then shoot over to Dobbs Unlimited for a sale of 30% or more off select sweaters, coats, hats, and scarves. Store hours for Friday are from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Of course you can’t celebrate the holidays without a little wine. Stop by Amanti Vino while you’re on Church and get 15% off any case of wine in the store. The wine shop will also be offering holiday packs of wine with 6 bottles selected to pair perfectly with the fare at any feast. Store hours for Friday are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
As you stagger off Church Street with all the goods to make this season merry and bright, don’t miss the perfect store to make the holidays sparkle. Yanina & Co. in Cedar Grove has all the big looks of the moment from black diamonds in every form to classic pieces like white or champagne diamond hoop earrings. The jewelry store also boasts an extensive collection of Indian-inspired jewelry from raw diamonds to ravishing rubies and as in holidays past is presenting customers with a $250 gift card on purchases of $700 or more. The special holiday promotion starts Friday, but extends right to Christmas Eve. Store hours for Friday are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
But if shimmering jewels don’t dazzle that techie on your list head down the Avenue to the AT&T store in Bloomfield, where they are giving out the Blackberry Torch free with contract. Store hours for Friday are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If homespun goodness is more what your looking for, take Bloomfield Avenue to in Verona where you’ll find the shop filled with original, handmade decorations and gifts. While owner Deborah Galife doesn’t plan any special sales for Black Friday, she continues to do what she has always done on that day which is to give back to the community. The store will be raffling off one of the more expensive, seasonal items and donating the entire retail price to a good cause. Additionally, the store will donate 25% of total sales on Friday to the chosen charity. This year the funds will support , a charity for a local little girl who has a rare, fatal disease. With everything in the store is very reasonably priced do some holiday shopping and do some good. Store hours for Friday are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
in Caldwell sells furniture bedding, lighting, rugs, home accessories and gifts for the young and young at heart. Plus, there's a toy room to keep the tots busy while the parents shop. All in-store merchandise will be 20% off on Black Friday, when you can enjoy unique gift wrapping and complimentary food and refreshments. Store hours on Friday are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Looking for a great deal on jewelry? After 25 years in business, in Caldwell has announced that theat year's end. All remaining merchandise is being offered at 30% to 50% off regular prices while supplies last. Store hours on Fridays are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Then on Saturday get ready to do it all over again because in Caldwell opens with their big holiday reveal. On Black Friday the store shuts its doors to prepare, and on Saturday it reopens to uncover a space transformed into a winter wonderland. Named “,” it is the day owner Lisa Smith presents her holiday collection. That day “you can shop till you drop,” Smith said. Store hours for Saturday are from 10 a.m. till customers stop coming.
Saturday is being billed as "" by Caldwell Merchants. Santa Claus will be available for photo-ops at from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and shops and restaurants around town will be offering special deals and a traditional downtown experience. For more information, visit www.caldwellmerchants.com.