This local retailer wants you to take a hike this Black Friday... literally

They're calling it 'Plaid Friday'
Posted at 6:00 AM, Nov 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-25 06:00:02-05

CINCINNATI -- For most retailers, the Friday after Thanksgiving means the iron to strike is hot when it comes to generating business.

But not for Danny Korman.

Korman owns Park + Vine in Over-the-Rhine, an all-vegan general store that combines socially and environmentally conscious clothing, books and household items and doubles as a restaurant.

Instead of ramping up his store's sales promotions, though, Korman is bucking Black Friday's typical focus on consumer transactions -- and he's using Cincinnati's city streets and their history to do it.

At 10 a.m. Friday, Korman, partnering with the East Price Hill-based Imago Earth Center, is organizing a hike through some of Cincinnati's most historic districts.

They're calling it the "Plaid Friday Urban Hike," named after a tradition that started in 2009 in Oakland, California. This will be Korman's second year leading the hike.

"I wish we'd done this every year," Korman said. "Last year, tickets sold so quickly we had a waiting list."

Korman told WCPO that part of the motivation to resist the typical Black Friday routine comes from a continual, downward trend retailers have noticed recently on spending during the final Friday in November, as more and more promotions persist throughout the weekend to follow and into December.

Korman said it's a trend he's noticed at his store.

"For the last few years, we'd seen our sales each Black Friday getting lower," he said. Now for the second year in a row, Park + Vine's doors will be locked on the biggest retail day of the year.

But Korman also said that the decrease in sales is more of a coincidence than a motivator.

For him, it's more about getting people outside and exploring Cincinnati's streetscape -- particularly, he said, during the colder times of year people when tend to hole up in their homes.

It's a cause he's championed for years: Korman lives car-free and either walks or bicycles to work daily, no matter the season. Aside owning and operating Park + Vine, Korman is also co-author of "Walking Cincinnati," an urban hiking guide to the Queen City that features about 30 different routes throughout the region.

"We've learned that many people living in some of the more outlying neighborhoods or the suburbs, they haven't really ever seen these neighborhoods or explored them on foot," he said. "It lets them walk through neighborhoods they've never walked through.

"There's a real camaraderie that forms," he said. "It felt really good."

He also said it highlights the city's unique urban landscape.

"A lot of people don't know there are woodland areas along these hillsides, right in the urban core," he said. "It's kind of unexpected."

Ultimately, Korman said the hike isn't meant to discourage consumer-oriented business, but to generate a sense of neighborliness.

"We are a retailer, and we don't want to discourage people from supporting retail, especially locally," he said. "We're just trying to get people outside and make them realize that getting out into your neighborhood in the fall and winter is just as important as in the warmer months."

This year's eight-mile hike will start at Park + Vine on Main Street in OTR and head up the hill through Cincinnati's CUF neighborhood, comprised of Clifton Heights, University Heights and Fairfiew. They will stop for a bagged lunch at Bellevue Hill Park, before winding back down to Over-the-Rhine by way of a stop at Findlay Market.

Bellevue Hill Park itself boasts one of the city's richest histories. It was the site for the Cincinnati-Clifton Incline Plane, nicknamed the Bellevue Incline for its sweeping overlook views of downtown Cincinnati, and was home to the Bellevue House, a popular dance hall and resort. The hillside also featured one of the city's iconic incline railroad lifts, a part of Cincinnati's once-vast streetcar and transit network.

The whole hike should take roughly three hours, Korman said, and will take place regardless of weather. The hike is a ticketed event -- which includes lunch -- and can be purchased here.