This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang,

But with Black Friday…

- T.S. Elliot...Mostly


Or so it seems, these days. The day after Thanksgiving used to be about recovering from the massive amounts of turkey and stuffing you consumed the day before. It was about family and napping and leftovers. But then, something happened. Somebody figured out that most people had the day after Thanksgiving off from work. Then, that person figured out a way to make money from it. Thus, Black Friday was born- and it was dark days, indeed.

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This is a tale of two cities. Or, at least, two hypothetical tales of one city.

City One is a typical Black Friday in Casper. You wake up at the stroke of midnight. Or maybe you just never went to sleep at all. (This is possible because evidently Black Friday starts at 6:00 pm on Thursday now, but for the purposes of this story…we’ll assume Black Friday actually starts on Friday). You pry your eyes open, still sleepy from all the tryptophan you consumed. Regardless, you peel yourself away from your bed and look lovingly at your spouse. Then, you kick the bed to rouse him or her because there is no way in hell you are embarking on this journey alone.

You order said spouse to put the coffee on, and then meander into your children’s room. You are doing this because you love them, you tell yourself. Try not to resent them, you tell yourself (more than once). They will be sitting this venture out, thanks to an aunt that decided to stay an extra day to babysit. This is a good thing. Let them stay innocent for one more year.

Finally, after a gallon of coffee you get in your car and head to your first destination -  we’ll call it S-Mart. You thought that by getting to S-Mart as early as you did that there would be a parking place available. There isn’t. You end up parked in your neighbor’s driveway and begin the long walk to the store. Evidently it’s not that long of a walk, because the line to get into the store begins roughly in your neighbor’s living room. So you wait.

And you wait.

And you keep waiting.

Finally, the line budges a little bit. You have made friends with the nice, older woman behind you in line. She tells you that she is just here to purchase a small something for her grandchildren. This warms your heart, which is good because the rest of your body is negative degrees. As the line slowly inches closer and closer towards the front door, that mecca, this older, grandmotherly type tells you the story of how she met her husband, many years ago.

“It was quite literally love at first sight,” she begins. The line moves as you continue to listen to her. “It was at a Sadie Hawkins Dance,” she continues. “The music was beautiful, the lights were low, but it seemed like he glowed. He walked up to me, asked for me for a dance and then-“

Literally she straight up punches you in the face.

She takes your place in line just as that half of it enters the store. You are stuck waiting in the cold. Your face hurts. Because of the aforementioned cold and because, for an older lady, she had a killer right hook.

Finally, you enter the store and are subsequently squashed during the proceeding stampede. It’s like the Walking Dead in this place, and you are (SPOILERS) Glenn. Everybody else is Lucille. This reference only makes sense if you’ve seen the show.

You pick yourself up, because your spouse is of no help. Because you’ve lost each other. You will never see each other again. He or she has been swallowed by the store. Your spouse lives here now.

After making your way through the zombified horde, you find the gift you are here for. There is one left. You know how this story goes. You reach for it but at that exact moment,  so does somebody else. This is weird because literally one second ago nobody else was even around. Regardless, you now have to battle this person for this 20% off treasure.

The store is silent. You are handed your sword. The spotlight shines. The battle begins.

Twenty minutes later, you are battered, broken and bruised. Now you stand beside your treasure on the mountain, dark and red. You turn the stone and look beneath it:

“Peace on Earth,” was all it said.

Or whatever. It was a TV or something. You emerge from the bowels of the store, leaving your spouse behind. They’re on their own. You take a deep breath, pop your shoulder back into place and start the journey to your next destination. The day has only just begun.

So, that’s scenario one.

Scenario two is a bit simpler.

In Scenario Two, you shop in Downtown Casper, on Small Business Saturday.

Downtown is Casper’s hub of the latest and greatest shops, bars and restaurants that this town has to offer. It has everything you could want in terms of gifts, food, drinks and more. Downtown is a happy place. It is warm. It is friendly. It does not include even one old woman who would punch you in the face. It is the perfect scenario to spend a day shopping in.

In this scenario, you’re able to sleep in. You don’t have to force your spouse to make coffee, because you can stop by Metro Coffee Company, one of the best coffee shops in town. You receive your coffee from the friendly barista, who wishes you a good day. You return the nicety and venture onwards.

After visiting Metro, you meander over to Cadillac Cowgirl. Cadillac Cowgirl is, per their website, "trendy and casual, a clothing and accessory boutique with a touch of western!" It has clothes, jewelry, accessories and more. The owner of Cadillac Cowgirl, Callie Hobza, believes Small Business Saturday is the most important day of the year for small businesses.

"Small Business Saturday is extremely important," Hobza told K2 Radio News. "It's something that can take you out of the red and into the black. Fall is normally a pretty slow time for retail, so this is when it picks up for us and it's extremely important. Also, small businesses actually give back to the community. We're the ones that are donating to your kids' schools and after school programs. And every time we have a sale, you are helping us feed our kids; you're keeping us going."

After that conversation, you keep going as well, making your way next door to the Floral Rhino.

Floral Rhino, per their sign, offers "gifts for her." Those gifts include, per the Floral Rhino website, "jewelry, belt buckles, purses, scarves, candles, witty greeting cards, wall art, gift books and home décor. Among our inventory, you’ll find kitchen items, laptop covers, phone holders, pillows, aprons and seasonal items."

It has everything one could possibly need, if that one is a lady. Or is comfortable enough to dress eclectically.

Chelsea Kalasinsky, the manager of the Floral Rhino, said that Small Business Saturday is the busiest day of the year for them.

"Just being able to see everyone come together in the community and shop local has been awesome," Kalasinsky said. "It also offers a small discount which seems to get people pretty excited and it's just kind of a thank you to everyone for supporting us. It's been insane for us today. My favorite part has been seeing everyone get so excited about the holidays, and even seeing people from out of town coming through. It's great to get that exposure."

Speaking of exposure, you then stop by Wyoming Camera Outfitters, one of the largest camera stores in the West. They offer a variety of products from Canon, Sony, Tamron and GoPro and you know just know just know that they will have the perfect gift for one of your best friends.

But if they're not into photography, perhaps they're into books! And if books are what you're looking for, you will certainly find them at Wind City Books. Wind City Books has been "bringing Casper books since 2007." Their collection is vast and varied and it features a wide-array of fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, and more.

On Saturday, Wind City Books was packed, due to their Books and Brews event, which featured meet and greets with local writers, book signings and, yes beer.

"The store has been packed," said Miranda Berdahl, owner of Wind City Books. "It's been lined to the door. And it means a lot to us to see all of our loyal customers come out and support us. Honestly, I'll probably go home and cry after this, because I didn't expect this. But in order to keep all of these amazing employees around, people have to come out and support us, and they did that today. And it was incredible to see."

Incredible, also, is that you have time for lunch, even amidst all the hustle and bustle of shopping. Stop into The Office Bar & Grill for a wide-array of burgers, sandwiches, Gyros, finger foods and more. Their delicious food is served by a top-notch staff and they will provide the perfect accompaniment to an already lovely, stampede-free day.

After lunch, walk on over to Mountain Sports. This is the perfect place for the outdoor enthusiast on your shopping list. They offer everything from bikes to snowboards, skis, climbing equipment and more. This is just the place to shop for all of those “active” people in your life.

So, you’ve got the athletes you know covered. What about the artists? Downtownt has them covered, too! Stop by Art 321 and/or Scarlow's Gallery and feast your eyes upon a cacophony of local art- some of which you can even purchase. You may not know art, but you know what they like and there is a lot to like about Art 321 and Scarlow's.

Discount Remedies is the place if your friends and family are into health and, really, who isn't? According to their website, "Discount Remedies is all about providing you and your family with Quality Natural Products at Discount Prices. Our main focus is to provide you Quality Natural Remedies at affordable prices so that you can Live a Happier and Healthier Lifestyle the Natural Remedies Way."

The store is owned by married couple Mike and Starla Engberg and they also understand the importance of Small Business Saturday.

"It's been huge for us," Engberg said. "And people recognize what small business is all about, and how it allows the money to stay in the city, versus a corporation. It's also about working with the community, and meeting people in the community. Down the road, customers become friends and it's just an awesome thing. It's a very special day. Small businesses are so much better to work with than a corporate business. Because this is our livelihood. We started this business 20 years ago and our goal was to bring the discounts that are given to us, back to the community. We wanna share that with everybody. And that's why it's so big for us, and we appreciate the community."

Have you earned a drink yet? Yes, you have. Stop by Frosty's or The Gaslight Social and treat yourself to a wide variety of beers, wines, liquors and more. Both bars offer excellent bevs, fabulous service and atmospheres that you would swear belong in a bigger city. They don’t though. They’re exclusive property of downtown. And by exclusive property, we mean that they, like, exist downtown. But anybody can go there.

Speaking of alcohol, you or a loved one could own a very tantalizing bottle of wine if you stop by The Drinkery by Cory and pick one up. The Drinkery is a liquor store love story and there is arguably no better way to show your love to somebody than by providing them with alcohol. Fact.

So then. You’ve got your shopping done. It’s been a long day, but you remain unscathed. You got to shop at various local businesses, you experienced beautiful downtown Casper. You got a bit of a buzz going. It’s been almost a perfect day. Why not put it over the top and treat your significant other to a date night downtown?  Take him or her to dinner at Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana, enjoy some of the best pizza and pasta around and then stop by The Den at David Street Station for some warmth by the fire and some Christmas scenery.

So those are your choices. You can spend the day getting punched in the face by an old woman, or you can experience all the offerings of Downtown Casper.

You can either Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart or you can Shop Local. Shop Small. Shop Downtown Casper.

Small Business Saturday Tells A Tale of Two Cities in Casper

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