While hundreds of North Shore shoppers descended on Friday, just a few blocks away sisters Joan Colman and Breta Landy chatted as they walked down Silver Spring Drive, peeking in store windows of small merchants and reading window signs promising special deals for Black Friday.
"Instead of fighting the crowds at Bayshore, we decided to come here and have a leisurely walk," said Colman, a Whitefish Bay resident. "We're just meandering around and looking in different stores."
The business districts of the North Shore were not overrun Friday, but merchants said they had many customers who came in looking for discounts without having to battle the crowds.
At family-owned on Silver Spring Drive in Whitefish Bay, employee Linda Moore said the shop saw about 30 percent more business than a typical Friday morning. She expected things to pick up in the afternoon and continue into Small Business Saturday, a national "shop local" effort.
Thiet Jewelers offered 25 percent off most merchandise Friday, with extended hours to 8 p.m. Moore said it seemed many of the customers came because they wanted to support local businesses on a day when the focus typically falls on the biggest retailers.
"In this area, people like to frequent the smaller places," Moore said. "I think they like supporting the community."
Colman said she found a discounted bracelet at Thiet Jewelers that she will use as a Christmas present.
"I've lived in Whitefish Bay a long time and any time it's possible I like to support local businesses," she said.
In Shorewood, Fair Trade for All Assistant Manager Jolie Collins said traffic seemed a little higher than usual, as they offered 20 percent off winter accessories and fashion scarves in honor of "Green Friday," a term they use as an alternative to Black Friday.
"It's because we have green, environmentally friendly stuff," Collins said. "We try to see the day as more of a positive thing, rather than a negative."
Fair Trade for All, which also has stores in Wauwatosa and Port Washington, opened in Shorewood on Capitol Drive less than two months ago. Collins said the holiday weekend brings a welcome slew of new visitors, but that the store has not had trouble attracting people already.
"In Shorewood, people have seen the sign and when they're coming in, it's because they know it's fair trade and a neighborhood store," Collins said.
Shorewood resident Monica Maroney, who visited the store Friday with her family, said she came because she had the day off and had seen the store's sign before.
"We just saw that it opened and wanted to look around," Maroney said.
While stores like Fair Trade for All tried to offer a clear alternative to Black Friday, others enjoyed business from wandering customers who hit the big stores and decided to look around.
Stefan's Soccer Supply in Fox Point, situated just a few storefronts away from , saw customers who came specifically for Stefan's and others who came through after shopping at Best Buy to check out the scene.
Stefan's offered 20 percent off most merchandise Friday in addition to markdowns on certain products.
"People come in just looking for specials," Stefan's manager Abdul Oke said. "We tell them, and most people take advantage of it."