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November 19. 2012 6:48PM

Black Friday comes a couple of days early at LeBlanc's Hardware in Manchester


Owner Phil LeBlanc has a sign on the door of LeBlanc's Hardware on Hayward Street in Manchester touting the store's "Black Wednesday" sale. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER - In her more than 20 years at LeBlanc's True Value Hardware on Hayward Street, Linda Farruggio has done almost everything in the store. But last week she had an unusual assignment. In between dealing with customers at the busy cash register, she was crossing out the sales date on 200 TrueValue advertising fliers.

The Thanksgiving weekend sales promotion was promising up to 50 percent off selected items on Black Friday, Nov. 23. With a thick, black marker, Farruggio wrote "Wednesday" over the top of "Friday" on every flier, and Nov. 21 over Nov. 23.

The sign on the door said it all: "Our Black Friday starts on Wednesday."

If you got a flier in the mail or via the newspaper, you'll still see the original dates, but fliers available for pickup or handed out at the store were changed to reflect the effort by the small, locally owned hardware store to take advantage of the door-buster, price-chopper madness without opening on the holiday.

"We started handing them out last Thursday," said owner Phil LeBlanc, who inherited the hardware store his father started in Manchester 45 years ago, and hopes to pass it along to his three children, all of whom are active in the business.

LeBlanc has never been open on a Sunday, let alone a holiday like Thanksgiving, and isn't about to start, even as Black Friday moves into Thanksgiving Day. True Value intended for the Black Friday sale to run Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"Most True Value stores are open on Sunday," LeBlanc said, "but we're closed, so to make sure we were able to offer the prices for the full three days, we're starting on Wednesday."

The store has offered similar discounts in the past, on Fridays, when Farruggio would arrive at the usual 7:30 a.m. opening time to find customers already waiting in their idling cars. This year, they'll be watching for that early morning traffic on Wednesday, which suits Farruggio just fine, as long as she doesn't have to work on the holiday.

"In 21 years, I've never worked on Thanksgiving. We close for the holiday to spend time with our families," she said, taking issue with holiday store hours. "Personally, I think it's awful. I think you should be spending time with your family. There's plenty of time to have sales and make money."

LeBlanc agreed: "It's really sad," he said. "These stores that are opening on Thanksgiving Day are not giving families time together. There's already not enough of that as it is."

So when Black Friday moves all the way back to Wednesday, as it most likely will some day, regular patrons of LeBlanc's will be able to say it all started at a small hardware store in Manchester, and for all the right reasons.

dsolomon@unionleader.com



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