Cyber Monday, step aside: Cider Monday puts a tasty spin on buying local

Cyber Monday? Try Cider Monday, when New England retailers put a 'Buy Local' spin on the shopping day associated with Internet deals. 

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File
Apples at Carlson Orchards in Cambridge, Mass. Local New England booksellers are promoting "Cider Monday" as a small-business alternative to Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, has become one of the biggest sales days for online retailers. This year, a group of independent bricks-and-mortar stores in New England are fighting back with "Cider Monday."

"How many millions of dollars are spent on Cyber Monday? We thought it would be fun to play on the words, and have Cider Monday be the day when people would go into their local store. We're all offering cider!" says Willard Williams, owner of the Toadstool Bookshops in western New Hampshire and the originator of "Cider Monday."

"People are seeing the 'Cider Monday' and coming right in," says Kenny Brechner, owner of DDG Booksellers in Farmington, Maine. "The turnout has been amazing, especially considering the snowy weather."

“We are confident that 'Cider Monday' will very quickly overtake 'Cyber Monday' as the shopping event of the year,” says Mr. Williams.

"Our servers aren't going to crash – and might even smile. And we can promise no bugs in the cider," he laughs, referring to the crashing network servers and 'buggy' software that can plague digital retailers. 

Williams shared the Cider Monday idea with a network of bookstore owners, who then spread it to other locally owned businesses in their communities. Today over 100 businesses are taking part, according to local estimates.

"I took one look at it and said, 'That's a great idea,' and then printed something up and walked around town," says Mr. Brechner. He first heard the idea last Monday and started drumming up interest immediately. By Friday, 10 other shop owners in the small town had signed on.

"I 'seeded' it throughout the community," puns Brechner. "I think the idea all along was to make it more of a widespread 'Shop Local' idea, not just focus on individual bookstores," he says. "It's just that we were the ringleaders."

Profits from locally owned stores stay and re-circulate in the area, notes Williams. 

"I'm a big believer in the buy-local movement, and I think it's making a difference," he says. He points to recent reports from the American Booksellers Association showing that, since May 2010, one or two new bookstores have opened every week.

He credits growing public awareness of the link between the arrival of big-box stores and the closing of locally owned stores. "People start worrying that their local bookstore is going to close. They mention that to other people, and it builds a community of bookbuyers who want to support their local stores," he says.

"That's ultimately what we're trying to do with Cider Monday," says Williams. "Thank the people who have decided to spend their money locally."

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