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‘Plaid Friday’ is the biggest day of the year for local Alexandria retailers

Danielle Romanetti of fibre space at 1319 Prince Street in Old Town (via Sarah Marcella Photography)

Danielle Romanetti takes most of the credit for Plaid Friday.

It all started back in November 2009, just a few months after she opened her knitting shop fibre space (now at 1319 Prince Street). As the holiday season approached, Romanetti realized that no local businesses in Alexandria recognized Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving and the first day of the holiday shopping season.

“I was always fascinated by the chaos of Black Friday,” Romanetti told ALXnow. “I contacted a bunch of neighboring businesses and we made a big deal about saying our fire code capacity was 40 people, so it was going to be tough to get in the door. We created this frenzy so that people would line up and be there at 6 a.m.”

The strategy worked, and Romanetti arrived to find a line of customers snaking around the block.

“It was so exciting,” she said. “We sold a ton and we we made a ton of money and it was a huge, wonderful success.”

Romanetti called a number of her neighbors, a handful of which joined her. More than 50 local businesses now participate in Plaid Friday, which was coined as a way to weave individual threads of small businesses together to create a unique fabric to highlights the diversity and creativity of independent shops.

“It’s my biggest single day of the year,” Romanetti said. “We sell about 10% of our inventory in the store on that day. That’s an enormous amount of product to move out.”

Elizabeth Todd, owner of The Shoe Hive (127 S. Fairfax Street), Yellow Jacket (301 Cameron Street) and The Hive (301 Cameron Street) declined the offer that first year, but has participated ever since.

“It’s definitely the biggest sales day of the year for me, too,” Todd said. “My Black Friday was nothing before 2010.”

Todd offers 30% off from 6 to 8 a.m., 20% off from 8 to 10 a.m. and 10% off the rest of the day.

“If you’re going to get up that early in the morning you should be rewarded,” Todd said.

Visit Alexandria now manages Alexandria’s Black Friday event, and lists dozens of participating businesses. Those businesses also participate in Shop Small Week.

“When I first opened, I asked my neighbors about Black Friday,” Romanetti recalled. “I was told, ‘Oh, we don’t open that day. Everybody goes to the mall.’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s the biggest shopping day of the year, and we own retail stores. So, I’m gonna be open at 6 a.m.'”

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