Next to the gnomes and other festive decor that greets BIRCH customers is something else red and white, a sign saying “Cover your face, shop safe.” That precaution and the hand sanitizer are some of the signs of the times as Wiscasset shops plan their Early Bird sales for this Saturday, Nov. 14.
It will be Early Bird as usual, but “with a little more wiping and cleaning” this year, Ames True Value Supply co-owner Wayne Averill said behind a bandanna Nov. 7.
With people spending more time at home this year, the store has gotten “a lot” of extra Christmas lighting, Averill said. “Just watching how many lights people did for Halloween, I think decorations are going to be really strong (sellers).”
Due to Maine’s current head count limits depending on stores’ square footage, some stores, including Erika Soule’s Rock Paper Scissors, will offer their Early Bird discounts over the stores’ normal Saturday hours. “I don’t want to encourage gatherings, so we’re going to spread the sale out all day,” 20% off from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Soule explained. “And honestly I’m looking forward to not having to get up to be here at 6 a.m.,” she added, smiling.
BIRCH co-owner Greg Uthoff recommended shoppers pace themselves. BIRCH’s sale runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “We’re hoping that helps people not feel like they have to get in here all at once, because we certainly have to limit the amount of people in the shop. We’re hoping people will still have an interest in (Early Bird) and be in the spirit and support the shops ... and come escape the real world.”
Due to the pandemic, Big Al’s won’t have free coffee and doughnut holes. “You just can’t do that today unfortunately,” owner “Big Al” Cohen said. But both the main store and the fireworks one will have a sweet deal: 25% off from 7 to 10 a.m. If you enter the store near the end of the sale, you will receive a coupon for the discount, good through noon “or even 1 o’clock if they’re shopping that long,” Cohen said Nov. 4.
The coupon for later shoppers is a Big Al’s tradition. “I get busier between 9 and 10 than I am from 7 to 8 because people have gone to other stores and they know they’ll still get the discount (here) as long as they’re in the door by 10 o’clock.”
Early Bird follows Old and Everlasting owners Marianne and Rob Barry’s 42nd wedding anniversary. They predicted a busy holiday season for their year-old lifestyle store, by the same name as one they had 28 years in Cazenovia, New York. When the Water Street shop reopened after the spring shutdown due to the pandemic, “June was pretty quiet,” Rob Barry said. “July was better, and then August, September and October were actually pretty good.”
“It’s been a different year for all of us,” Marianne Barry said. Her husband said Early Bird will be a chance to thank customers. “And it’s about being part of the community, and it brings people to town,” he said. “I think people are excited about it.”
Also taking part in Wiscasset Early Bird are Sarah’s Cafe, DebraElizabeths, Mammy’s Bakery, In The Clover and Moulinette. Encouraging Saturday’s shoppers are Wiscasset Area Chamber of Commerce; Carl M.P. Larrabee Insurance Agency, now part of J. Edward Knight; and Marsha DeCosta of Tim Dunham Realty.