Shopping for Black Friday deals in Athens on a $60 budget

I tried. I really did. I set four different alarms at 4 a.m., 4:05 a.m., 4:10 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. I couldn’t pull myself out of bed to ride my bike in the 25 degree morning that was Black Friday. Doorbusters were going on on East State Street, but I wasn’t going to make it in time for the savings, even if I was able to drag myself out of my bed.

Black Friday is a big deal in the United States, the start of the holiday shopping season as well as the holiday season in general. Many shoppers across the country flocked to their favorite retailer to secure the latest deal — except for Athens.

Athens becomes somewhat dormant during breaks from classes. Most students head home for Thanksgiving, leaving the streets of Athens like something out of a scene from “The Walking Dead.”

In response to this, many businesses and restaurants closed their doors for the holiday, but some local businesses in town kept their doors open and offered specials and deals. I decided to head out to see what Court Street had to offer, but being the college student I am (i.e. broke) I kept myself at a $60 budget.

A pair of fuzzy socks and a coloring book for $40 started my Black Friday
A pair of fuzzy socks and a coloring book for $40 started my Black Friday

At first, I was worried. I walked onto Court to be greeted only by closed doors and dark stores. I originally hoped to go into the bookstores to pick up some OU gear, but both had closed. So I continued my journey through the vacant street until I came to the last section the street, near BP and such. I found one store during my entire walk though that had a specific Black Friday sale, and that was Import House, a local clothing and tobacco  shop that specializes in outdoor wear. The store was offering 25% off anything that was already on sale, meaning whatever was on sale, one could add an additional 25% off. I was shopping for my girlfriend so I was in luck. I was able to leave Import House after spending half my budget on a pair of socks and a coloring book that is designed for older doodlers.

A koala riding a bike or a shirt worth $20, you decide!
A koala riding a bike or a shirt worth $20

Determined to use the rest of my budget, I went back down Court Street toward campus and noticed Artifacts Gallery was open. Artifacts Gallery is a clothing store  next to Casa Nueva, and has a variety of funny and interesting shirts, trinkets and posters. I decided to treat myself a little bit here as I saw a shirt I couldn’t walk away from.

The store had a line of shirts that were of animals riding bikes. As silly as that sounds, they had tons of different animals to choose from. Llamas, sharks, deer, and even crabs were some of the options, but one was especially cool, a koala. It was a tough choice between the koala and deer, but I had to go with the bear. Cause I mean, come on who wouldn’t want to see a koala on a bike?! I picked up the shirt for $20 and left with $10 remaining.

I tried to find more deals on Black Friday, but most were in my email inbox, so I decided that my final purchase would be a well needed lunch after a morning of shopping.

I should have gone out a day later to Artifacts Gallery. The Saturday following Black Friday is labeled as Small Business Saturday, a day where everyone is encouraged to shop local, and support the small business owners instead of using the chains for holiday shopping. This is the “holiday” I wish shoppers would rally around. Paying the little bit extra to shop local is very beneficial, and not only does it help the shop owners, it helps the entire community and creates a stronger bond between the shop and customer.

Say what you will about Black Friday, as fun or embarrassing as it may be, it does offerers some of the best deals on the top holiday gifts,  but one should always remember to shop locally if you can, and support the local business owners.

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