Central La. small businesses seek Black Friday niche

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Steve Stroud opened his business two hours earlier than normal on Black Friday, and he had people waiting outside.

He thinks he could have opened even earlier and shoppers would have been ready to secure a deal on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Stroud, who owns The Rocking Horse Toy Store on Front Street in Natchitoches with his wife, Phyllis, said Black Friday was a good day for the store that specializes in new and classic toys.

“It has been great,” Stroud said. “We started having people early. Actually, we had some people waiting when we opened. We’ve had pretty much a full store.”

Phyllis Stroud was at home sick Friday after wearing herself out in preparation for Black Friday, but Steve and his workers were prepared for an early 8 a.m. opening.

“We load our floor up as much as we can with our merchandise,” Stroud said. “We give a lot of discounts out. Even if it’s not marked as a discount, everybody’s looking for a deal on Black Friday, and if they ask for a discount, I’ll give it to them.”

Many locally owned, small businesses struggle to compete the deals that national chains can offer on Black Friday. However, The Rocking Horse typically does a lot of business the day after Thanksgiving, Stroud said.

Because it specializes in toys, November and December usually are the busiest months of the year for The Rocking Horse. Friday, however, was a little busier than most.

“We’re having a tremendously good day,” Stroud said.

Friday wasn’t so good for Connie Gagnard, however.

Gagnard owns The Wishing Well, a boutique gift shop in Marksville, and Black Friday typically is a slow day for her business.

“We know that everybody leaves Marksville and goes to Alexandria to get those Black Friday deals,” she said.

This year, she tried something different in hopes of attracting more customers.

She set up a tent in the parking lot where she placed some sale items, and she also brought in another vendor to sell some of her specialties.

“We tried to get those eye-catchers out in the parking lot,” Gagnard said.

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