The holidays are here and that means the rush is on to get gifts for family and friends. After Thanksgiving comes Black Friday, considered the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S. But Dave Overfelt at the Missouri Retailers Association said its origins are a little different.

The term, he said, was coined in Philadelphia in the 1950s by the police.

“Because they had to deal with a lot of the people coming in for the Army/Navy game and then they would go shopping and, frankly, when it snowed, the old cars, the coal burning heat, you know, it was a bit of a mess,” said Overfelt.

He said that using the term black to describe something can sometimes have a negative connotation.

“Retailers tried to change it in ’61 by calling it Big Friday, but that did not take off,” said Overfelt.

Then came another rebrand a few years later.

“They kind of changed the story and made the point that, gosh, you know a good deal of our sales start,” he said. “This is when we go from being in the red to the black. That story stuck for a little while, but really, the reality of it came back and the origins went back to the Black Fridays that the Philadelphia Police Department named the annual event.”

Following Black Friday is Small Business Saturday, a trend that began online to promote shopping locally, which Overfelt said you can now do with your favorite mom-and-pop businesses.

“Don’t hesitate to look to see if there’s a website for a lot of the small businesses because they have them,” according to Overfelt. “A lot of them started popping up during COVID when they had to do curbside pickup or deliveries, etc. So, that is one other avenue you can shop local through the internet and look for your favorite local stores.”

He estimates about 20% of all sales could come from the holiday shopping season for a lot of small businesses.

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