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The Evolution and History of Black Friday

The holidays are fast approaching, and it’s time to get your wish lists in order. Kicking off the holiday shopping season is the most exciting and hectic shopping day of the year: Black Friday. Stores around the nation participate in this unofficial holiday, including many of our very own Woodfield shops. Black Friday may seem like a holiday staple now, but it wasn’t always such a widely recognized event. Take a trip down memory lane as you prepare for your shopping extravaganza with this brief guide to the history of Black Friday.

The beginning

As with most holidays, the history of Black Friday is a bit fuzzy. While we don’t know the true origins of this holiday for certain, people have long considered the Friday after Thanksgiving the beginning of the Christmas season. Though the name Black Friday didn’t pop up until the 1950s, many businesses saw this day as the perfect opportunity to roll back prices and debut seasonal items. The popularity of Thanksgiving Day parades, many of which were sponsored by well-known retailers, also helped to further the perception of this unofficial holiday. Police officers first used the name “Black Friday” to describe the influx of crowds and traffic that were common at the start of the holiday shopping season. People have also long used the term “black” to describe undesirable events, so the name Black Friday eventually stuck, and people have used it to describe the Friday after Thanksgiving for many years.

Bigger crowds, lower prices

As the popularity of Black Friday shopping continued to grow, it became more and more important for businesses to set themselves apart from the competition. Businesses started lowering their prices more and more and opening their doors to shoppers earlier every year. Today, many stores open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, often in the late afternoon or early evening. The logic behind these changes is simple: the earlier the doors are open, the longer customers have to shop, and the higher the likelihood of purchases. Many shoppers and retailers see this change as beneficial, but it has also led to the phrase “Gray Thursday” or “Black Thursday.” With this change, retailers seem to skip over Thanksgiving entirely, moving immediately into the holiday shopping season instead.

Turning to technology

The retail industry has evolved many times throughout the years, and one of its more recent changes involves a shift toward online retail. With the prevalence of technology in our modern society, many retailers have begun to use online sales in their Black Friday ad campaigns. The popularity of online discounts has led to the creation of yet another unofficial, consumer-focused holiday. Cyber Monday occurs on the Monday following Thanksgiving and enables shoppers to kick off their holiday shopping without ever leaving their house. Cyber Monday first became popular in the early 2000s, and, as technology has become smarter and more accessible, it has only continued to grow in popularity.

5 Black Friday Tips for Small Businesses

As the countdown to the holiday season begins, crazy crowds of shoppers will start to make an appearance. This is the busiest time of the year for small businesses, but also the most profitable. To be as successful as possible, here are some Black Friday tips for small businesses.

Plan Ahead

The first tactic your small business should complete ahead of the Black Friday madness is to plan everything out. Decide which products you want to put on sale, how long the sale will last, and how to make customers aware of these good deals. If you come up with a game plan, you’ll be able to maximize your profits during the biggest shopping holiday of the year.

Promote Your Deals

Social media is the best way to promote your Black Friday deals—it’s a quick and easy way to alert customers of deals. Leading up to Black Friday, develop a social media strategy and execute it to grab consumers’ attention before they start shopping. Additionally, think about offering exclusive deals people can only find on your social media profiles.

Employ Extra Staff

Black Friday has a reputation of summoning large crowds in malls and shopping centers across the country. The best possible way to prepare for this swarm of people is to have extra staff on hand for the occasion. Put out job postings months in advance to ensure you have enough people to keep operations running as smoothly as possible.

Decorate and Organize the Store

Aside from social media, another way to spread awareness for your business’s Black Friday deals is to decorate and organize your store. The best approach is to use color-coding tactics—this will increase the odds of consumers noticing your store’s Black Friday deals. Consider using warmer colors, such as red, on signs and displays as research shows this color scheme grabs customers’ attention.

Don’t Compete with Big Business

Our final Black Friday tip for small businesses is to avoid competing with big corporations such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. Big businesses tend to dominate Black Friday as they have the resources to offer perks such as opening late in the evening on Thanksgiving. However, this doesn’t mean your small business still can’t capitalize on the ultimate holiday shopping season. Instead, do what is best for your business and take advantage of the areas you can. For instance, small businesses should highlight unique and rare items that you cannot typically find at major US retailers to stand apart from the pack.

7 Ways to Prepare for Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday is on its way, which means incredibly hectic stores and streets. Whether you shop for yourself or for others on Black Friday, this day can be uber-stressful if you don’t plan it out correctly. To help you obtain the smoothest possible experience, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite ways to prepare for Black Friday shopping. From pre-shopping tips to in-store survival tricks, we’ve got what you need to get through the day.

Make a Budget

One of the most important things you can do before you go Black Friday shopping is prepare your budget for the holiday season—and then follow through with it. You don’t want to overspend for the season before it has fully begun! Make sure your budget is reasonable, and give yourself a bit of wiggle room. Nail down items that you have to have, and make sure you leave room for incidentals.

Stay Organized

If you don’t want to add more stress to your plate, then you’ll want to stay as organized as possible. Make a to-do list of the things you have to buy, and clean out your wallet and purse. Make sure you keep receipts, cards, and cash organized to avoid any identity theft. The more organized you are, the less hectic you’ll feel.

Compare Ads

If you’re out to get the best deals possible, do your research and take a look at different store ads before you head to the mall. Compare the ads and see who will give you the best deals. The sooner you familiarize yourself with this year’s ads, the more prepared you’ll be when it comes time to shop.

Figure Out Your In-Store Game Plan

When it comes to actually getting in the store, you’re going to need a total game plan. Decide which stores you’ll visit and what order you’ll visit them in. If you have to drive to different locations, figure out where you’ll start and end your trip. If you need to go to multiple sections in a store, figure out which one you’ll go to first.

Only Get What You Came For

A lot of people leave with impulse purchases when they go Black Friday shopping. If you actually want to stick to your budget, then you have to limit your impulse buys. Sure, that cute pair of shoes is a great steal, but those great steals will eventually add up to more than you budgeted for. Put on your blinders in the checkout lane—you don’t need those fuzzy socks or another candle.

Be Prepared for Alternatives

Some things you planned on buying may already be out of stock, or the store may not have the size or color you want. Have some alternatives in mind for these cases, and try your best to be a flexible shopper. Maybe that TV you wanted is already sold out, but a similar model is still available at a reasonable price.

Practice Patience

Finally, practice patience. Don’t get angry at the checkout assistant, and don’t snap at the person who accidentally hit your heels with their cart. Don’t get frustrated when the item you wanted is out of stock. Keep your mind on the reason for the season.

Don’t Get Scrooged: Tips to Avoid Holiday Identity Theft

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s important to follow these important tips to avoid holiday identity theft. From phishing scams to complete financial identity theft, you need to make sure you take the proper steps when holiday shopping. Don’t get us wrong—we love online shopping and shopping at the mall, but we like it even more when it’s done safely. Keep your holiday season looking merry and bright, and check out the holiday identity theft avoidance tips below!

Understand the Different Types of Identity Theft

First, you should educate yourself on the different types of identity theft. The seriousness of these crimes ranges, but during the holidays, you’re most susceptible to things like social security identity theft and financial identity theft. Before the holidays truly begin, make sure you know how these crimes can impact your life.

Be Alert for Pick Pocketers

If you will go out to do your holiday shopping, especially during busy days like Black Friday, make sure you look out for pick pocketers. In general, one of the best ways to avoid holiday identity theft is just by staying aware of your surroundings. If you let your attention go lax, you’ll catch a thief’s eye. Make sure you keep your purse or wallet on you at all times, and put cards back where they belong after purchases.

Use Secure ATMs

Whether it’s the holidays or not, you should always use secure ATMs whenever possible. During the holidays, however, you need to be even more cautious about where you pull money from. Make sure the ATM you choose is well-lit, and don’t use it if anyone suspicious is lurking around. Truth be told, it’s better to just use an ATM connected to your bank—it will greatly lessen your chances of identity theft.

Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi

This is another tip you should follow all year—don’t use public Wi-Fi. Online shopping in a public area using the general Wi-Fi will heavily increase the chances you’ll get your identity stolen. Criminals can access information you send through public Wi-Fi, so make sure not to check your bank account or credit card statement in a public area. If you do, make sure you use a secure network. It may even be a good idea to install a Virtual Private Network, as it will secure and privatize the network if you need to use public Wi-Fi.

Check Your Bank Statements

During the holiday season, stay vigilant about checking your credit card statements and credit reports. Inquire about any suspicious activity you notice to catch any attempt at identity theft before it gets worse. This can end up being your saving grace!

Use Protection Tools

Take advantage of the different protection tools out in world, such as identity theft alerts and enrolling in a company’s identity theft protection plan. Even getting a new chip card before the holidays is a good idea, as this will add another extra layer of protection before your shopping begins.

Essential Painting Supplies for Beginners

Painting is an extremely rewarding hobby, but it’s also incredibly involved. A lot goes into the breathtaking masterpieces we find on museum walls. Getting started isn’t impossible, however—you just have to know where to begin. Before you can try your hand at painting, you’ll first need the proper supplies. Regardless of the type of paint you choose to work with, many of the items you’ll need are the same—in fact, you can likely find most of them at your local art supply store. We’ve made a handy list of essential painting supplies for beginners.

1. Paint

You don’t necessarily have to splurge on your initial haul. Starting with a limited selection of paint colors is economical and a great learning tool for beginners. Start off with a few of the basics and take some time to familiarize yourself with the medium.

2. Brushes

Do some research on the brushes you’ll use. What you buy will depend on the type of paint you’re working with, as well as on the subjects you intend on rendering. Some people work almost exclusively with large brushes, and other people prefer smaller ones. You may want to get a variety as you decide on what works for you. Look at what the bristles are made of, and don’t skimp on the quality. Bad brushes can result in the bristles coming off into your paint.

3. Canvas

While you experiment, buy some flat canvas boards and play around. Get a selection of budget-friendly canvases—we don’t recommend starting with ones that are overly large. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with color and hand movements, you can move on to a higher-quality surface.

4. A Palette

A palette isn’t usually an expensive investment, so we recommend buying a few. Get one a touch on the larger side so that you have room to mix your paint. Palettes with lids are useful for oil paints or watercolors, as you can use solvents to reactivate your leftovers later.

5. Graphite Pencils

You may want to do a crude sketch on the canvas before you begin painting. Some painters also plot out their artwork on regular paper first. Graphite pencils are a favorite of many artists because, depending on the softness of the lead, they’re easily erasable.

6. Lots of Rags

Between cleaning brushes, wiping off your hands, and protecting furniture, you’ll want to have a decent amount of rags on hand. Some painters opt to use paper towels, but reusable materials are more economical in terms of future costs as well as consideration for the environment.

7. Varnish

When your painting has fully dried—keep in mind that this can take months for oil paintings—you’ll want to paint over it with a protective coat of varnish. This will protect your work from aging and unsightly cracking.

5 Best Pizza Places in Schaumburg

Whether you need to refuel after a great day of shopping or you just have a hankering for some Chicago-style pizza, don't worry about driving into the city. Schaumburg is the area’s haven for a taste of the signature slice. Read on to find some of the best pizza places in Schaumburg.

Get a Taste of the Old Country

Take your family to the Old Town Pizza Co. and eat until you can’t any more. This amazing pizza place is known for their deep-dish pizza that tests the heftiest of appetites. Many people also love their perfectly portioned thin crust pizza that has just the right amount of toppings and crunch from the crust. No matter what kind of slice you’re looking for, Old Town Pizza Co. is the place to stop.

Grab a Slice from Mama’s Table

Deliciousness is synonymous with Mama Maria Pizza and More, so let this pizza transport you to an Italian dinner table with Mama Maria. Choose from thin crust, hand tossed, or deep dish and add a mountain of the best toppings. Grab a small pizza for a quick bite, or grab an XL for your entire team. No matter what you decide, it will be amazing!

Taste a Little Slice of Sicily 

This pizza will whisk you off to Italy—Little Sicily Pizzeria and Bakery embodies old country flavors. Their amazing pizza will hit the spot if you just want to grab a slice for lunch or you need a choice for dinner that pleases everyone. Many people say you have to try the double dough, but any option is great.

Discover “The” Chicago Deep Dish

For many, Lou Malnati’s is the quintessential Chicago pizzeria, and for good reason. Lou’s has an amazing selection of pizza crusts and toppings. You can create almost any combination of flavors that taste delicious. When it comes to deep dish specifically, Lou Malnati’s gives you all the cheese you can handle—maybe even more.

Discover “The” Chicago Deep Dish, Again 

If you don’t believe our last entry is the best Chicago deep dish, then you may believe Giordano’s is. Giordano’s food speaks for itself. With remarkably fresh toppings and the warmest, gooiest cheese in their pizza, you’ll be in nirvana. They lay the cheese on so thick you might not make it through two slices—good luck getting through a whole pie!

The Best Restaurants with Outdoor Dining in Schaumburg

As summer presses on and the weather continues to get warmer, you want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Take your meals outside and make the most of the summer sun at five of the best restaurants with outdoor dining in Schaumburg.

Westwood Tavern

For a more high-end dining experience, head over to Westwood Tavern. Every dish on the menu is made from scratch, so diners can rest assured they’re getting the highest quality food possible. Westwood Tavern also offers a custom wine list and tables with built-in beer taps, making it easy to pair your delicious dinner with the perfect drink. This restaurant has a beautiful outdoor patio with two fireplaces, so you can enjoy your dinner and drinks cozied up beside a roaring fire.

Kuma’s Corner

Burgers take center stage at Kuma’s Corner, but we can guarantee you’ve never had burgers like these. Their burgers are piled high with a variety of delicious ingredients such as poached pears, chicken tenders, and Belgian waffle strips. Kuma’s Corner even has a burger of the month: June’s featured burger has pimiento goat cheese, fried green tomatoes, and applewood smoked bacon. Diners can enjoy their burgers on the outdoor patio while sipping on locally brewed beers and listening to local musicians.

City Works

One of the best places for outdoor dining in Schaumburg, City Works is the perfect place to spend a fun Friday night. This eatery and pour house offers over 90 craft beers on tap, and their outdoor patio features two bocce ball courts. When you’ve successfully dominated your friends in a game of bocce, you can order a delicious dish off the menu, which features classic American food with a modern twist. Try the filet mignon sliders and ahi tuna tacos, or stop by for brunch—served every Saturday and Sunday—for the perfect way to start off your weekend.

Wildberry Pancakes and Café

Enjoy the beautiful summer weather and take your brunch outdoors this weekend. Wildberry has a lovely outdoor patio where diners can soak up the sun while sipping a hot cup of coffee. Their menu features an extensive list of delicious breakfast dishes, from pancakes to omelets to crepes, so everyone in your party can find something they’ll love. If you’re not in a breakfast mood, you can also order a savory salad or sandwich along with a fresh fruit smoothie.

Get Building: A Guide to Chicago’s Legoland Discovery Center

Fun for parents and kids alike, Chicago’s Legoland Discovery Center is a one-of-a-kind attraction with guaranteed smiles, learning, and laughter. The next time you plan a fun-filled outing, check out everything Legoland has to offer. From its location to an activity rundown, here’s everything you need to know before you go.

How and where you can buy tickets

There are two ways to buy tickets. You can either opt to buy them at the door, or you can purchase tickets online. Tickets bought at the door cost a little more, so be wary. If your family is full of Lego-fanatics, you may want to buy some annual passes. It greatly lowers the price for repeat visitors, and you’ll also get some great discounts in the Discovery Center.

Where it’s located

Good news for those in Schaumburg—the Legoland Discovery Center is located right in The Streets of Woodfield. It’s a breeze to find, just look for the giant Lego sculpture outside the building. Once you find it, the interactive fun can begin.

All about the attractions

With all the logistics figured out, it’s time to check out the facility. Unsurprisingly, you’ll see a lot of Legos. From the life-sized Pirate Adventure Island to the jaw-dropping Miniland, there’s no end to what you and your kids can gawk at. There’s a total of 12 attractions, two of which are exciting rides suitable for kids.

Interactive activities

While there are many things to look at, there are just as many attractions to play with. There are, of course, a plethora of Legos to build to your heart’s content. This allows for some fun free-play with more Legos at your child’s fingertips than they’ll know what to do with. Alongside this traditional play, there are also the rides. For magic-obsessed kids, there’s the mystical Merlin’s Apprentice Ride. If they’re more into knights and princesses, Kingdom Quest is sure to entertain.

Guide to birthday parties

A birthday party at the Legoland Discovery Center is surely an ultimate dream for most kids. With the right planning, you can make it come true. The center offers a comprehensive birthday party package, which includes admission, food and beverages, and Lego models for each guest. The next time your kid is bouncing off the walls with energy, go somewhere outside the norm. Equal parts educational and interactive, there’s an abundance of reasons the Legoland Discovery Center is a great destination. Best of all, it promises hours of fun for both you and your child.
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