Black Friday—the Minnesota-Nice Way

This weekend marks the biggest shopping day of the season, Black Friday. Over the years, stores have opened earlier and earlier each year to compete for sales, and two years ago, many stores began opening on Thanksgiving evening to capture extra dollars. A public backlash ensued, and last year, a handful of retailers finally said “enough.” National outdoor specialty store REI—which was closed both Thanksgiving and Black Friday—and local menswear store Askov Finlayson took a stand by encouraging its employees and shoppers to spend time outdoors instead. 

This year, Askov Finlayson is back with what it dubs its “Weekend of Giving.” Instead of a sale, the store is once again donating 10 percent of all proceeds in-store and online to anti–climate change nonprofit Climate Generation, and they’ve partnered with watch brand Tudor, which will match the store’s 10 percent donation to Climate Generation on Black Friday for every purchase made and also provide complimentary coffee at the Bachelor Farmer Cafe. Plus, Tudor and Askov Finlayson will make a donation of $500 for every watch sold from Friday through Monday. And as always, sales of Askov Finlayson’s “North” products, including its signature knit hat, benefit Climate Generation.

Mall of America has also gotten into the act by shutting down its operations on Thanksgiving, with a caveat that stores could remain open if they chose. In the end, it looks like only three stores will remain open: Macy’s, Sears, and the Crayola Experience. Instead, the mall will host the 9th Annual Walk to End Hunger to raise money for a dozen area hunger relief organizations. Other major retailers opting to stay closed on Thanksgiving include Nordstrom, T.J. Maxx, Home Depot, Idea, Crate and Barrel, Sam’s Club, the Container Store, and Menards. And in an unprecedented move, Patagonia, which has a store on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, is donating 100 percent of Black Friday sales at its stores and online—estimated to be more than $2 million—to grassroots environmental groups.

The day after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, has also become an important shopping day for independent retailers. The special shopping day was launched by American Express in 2010 in an effort to help small companies affected by the recession In 2012, consumers spent an estimated $5.5 billion at small retailers on Small Business Saturday, and by 2015, that amount nearly tripled to $16.2 billion. Although American Express initiated the nationwide Small Business Saturday campaign by offering cardholders a $25 statement credit for shopping at small shops, last year it offered no financial incentive. Instead, this year, Amex will give its customers double credit points instead of dollars for purchases made at small businessses between November 26 and December 31. Register your card at

While many major retailers are having doorbuster deals both on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, we’re opting to highlight some of the small, locally owned retailers offering specials throughout the weekend in this week’s shopping guide. After all, what could be more Minnesota-nice than spending your dollars at small local businesses?