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Whitney Davis loads her vehicle with Christmas gifts she purchased Friday at the Target store in Brunswick.

Whitney Davis is a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas shopping.

Davis, a resident of Patterson, joined other family members at 4:30 a.m. to get an early start on the sales at the big box stores.

Davis said her first stop was in Waycross with several more visits to other stores before reaching the Golden Isles. Her husband played chauffeur, patiently driving her and some friends from store to store.

Davis said she had already purchased toys, clothes and electronics for gifts, with a stop at a sporting goods store her next stop.

While Davis and her friends were enthusiastic about Black Friday shopping, there were plenty of open parking spaces in downtown Brunswick and in the parking lots where big-box stores such as Walmart and Target are located.

Ralph Staffins, president and CEO of the Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, said many local merchants learned to change the way they market their goods and services because of the pandemic. Many local businesses now have websites that are helping them survive during the pandemic, putting themselves in a strong position to have a good Christmas shopping season.

While the big box stores are typically the destination for shoppers the day after Thanksgiving, the following day is dedicated to small businesses.

The national “Shop Small” campaign today is when small businesses offer some of the best deals of the year, with lots of incentives to get people in the door.

This year, the chamber is sponsoring the Shop Local Glynn campaign where a lucky shopper is going to win a gift basket valued at more than $2,500.

Staffins said the Shop Local Glynn campaign should help local merchants. Shoppers will be given a QR code when they shop at the more than 40 participating businesses in town. They can scan the code into the drawing for a chance to win the gift basket.

Items in the gift basket include a stay at the Westin Hotel on Jekyll Island, jewelry, a kayak trip for two, and gift cards to many local businesses. He said the goal is to encourage people to shop in the Golden Isles rather than online.

“There’s nothing you can’t find in our community,” he said.

The chamber collaborated with Idea Lab to create the website shoplocalglynn.com to help centralize all parts of the campaign. It provides insight on the importance of shopping at businesses in the community, information on how to find a participating business, and how to be entered into the grand gift basket drawing.

The campaign begins Saturday and ends Dec. 20, when the winner’s name will be drawn.

Prognosticators predict this holiday shopping season will be a strong one compared to last year when the pandemic compelled many to shop exclusively online.

Staffins said there are people who will continue to shop online, but he believes there is a pent-up desire among many to shop in person this year.

“I think it’s going to be a very big holiday season,” he said. “I think we’ll see an uptick in restaurants and local businesses. I think people missed that experience.”

Technology products such as smartphones and smartwatches, computers, laptops and keyboards are expected to be among the big sellers this holiday season. Gaming will also be a hot commodity, along with tablets and smart home appliances.

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