It’s a popular tradition among newspapers to follow Thanksgiving Day with a story about Black Friday shopping.

The local daily where I worked at before usually sends a reporter to the stores in the wee hours of the morning. This year, I think they may have even sent someone the night before, since so many sale specials began at 10 p.m. or midnight.

I guess I always lucked out, because someone else always wrote the Black Friday story and I got to sleep in. But this year, I decided I would explore this major shopping holiday for the first time — farmer style.

Since Farm and Dairy generally appeals to the agricultural audience, those were the people I went looking for.

My helper

I met at 7:30 a.m. with a communications student from the Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, who spent the day as my job shadow. We had a quick breakfast at a local cafe and set out for a couple local farm stores.

Our first stop was Tractor Supply Company. Surely there would be some farmer shoppers at TSC, I thought, and I was partly right. I bumped into a couple grain farmers who rent my grandparents’ farm, but as I told my shadow, I don’t like to interview my neighbors and friends, so we greeted the couple and tried to find someone else.

It was kind of hit-and-miss trying to find shoppers who were also farmers, but we did meet Cheryl Morris and her daughter, Mallory, who run Morris Bros. Farm — a grain and beef operation between Wooster and Ashland.

Cheryl Morris said they started shopping around 5 a.m. and were mostly looking for toys for children in their family. Her husband took care of the morning chores, she said, so that she and her daughter could head for the stores.

Another store

My shadow and I then drove a short distance to Rural King of Ohio — a large retail store with a wide variety of farm supplies.

Tom White, store manager, opened at 6 a.m. and had a good size crowd waiting to get in.

“I literally stood there and held the door open, it was so busy,” he said.

The store is running various holiday weekend specials. On Thursday, popular items were generators and cordless drills; on Friday, customers came for a gear wrench set and gun safe.

Of course, Tom also treated his customers to free popcorn — an every-day treat at his store — as well as free coffee and Troyer’s doughnuts.

Ashland County grain farmer Don Kettering told us he came for a shop vacuum, which he found was still in stock at 8:30 a.m. Kettering said he was fortunate to have all his grain harvested, which freed him up for the early morning trip to town.

Just as we were leaving the store, we spotted David Busson of Doylestown loading a large metal round bale feeder into his pickup truck. He raises cattle and horses on a part-time basis and said he had been out shopping since 6:30 a.m.

Hit-and-miss

We didn’t quite run into the volume of farmers I had hoped. However, there may have been more farmer shoppers than we realized, since we certainly didn’t talk to everyone we saw. I think a lot of farmers who participate in Black Friday specials probably do so throughout the morning — and at whatever hours their schedule will permit.

And, although we targeted farm-specific stores, farm families certainly shop at the other stores, as well.

If you missed out on Friday morning shopping, you still have plenty of great weekend deals at stores like TSC and Rural King. If you live in eastern Ohio, Greier Ag Center in Canfield is planning a special day of sales on Saturday. The business is offering free T-shirts to the first 100 customers through the door, and Reps. will also be on hand for Tupperware, ThirtyOne Gifts, Cookie Lee Jewelry, Tastefully Simple, Scentsy and Sweet Violets Cloth Diapers.

The store also will have some special treats — Baker’s Golden Dairy Hot Chocolate and Haus’ Apple Orchard Hot Apple Cider.

Of course, if you miss Black Friday and the Black Friday weekend specials altogether, there’s always Cyber Monday on Nov. 28. The Better Business Bureau has some good suggestions if you’re planning to use the Internet for holiday shopping.

Start planning now!

Take time to print or clip ads for items you are interested in buying so you can outline your shopping day in advance.

Ask about return policies

While many stores offer a 30-day return policy, it is important to read the terms closely. Also, remember the refund policy usually applies to the day you purchase the item; not when you give the item as a gift!

Protect your personal information

Check to see how your info. may be used online. When shopping at stores, keep your card out of sight and make sure you get it back and safely in your wallet before you leave.

Check the site’s security settings and privacy policy

If the site is secure, its address should start with https://. You also may see a picture of a small closed lock in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Don’t rely on pictures of a product

Read the description and check model numbers, if applicable.

Be cautious of free or low-price offers

Often, free offers are followed by an open-ended enrollment in a program that automatically bills your credit card account.

Be aware of phishing

Don’t respond to emails that ask for your credit card or bank account number or other personal information. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming there is a problem with an order or account to lure you into revealing financial information.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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