Car wash, photo courtesy of ThinkStock.com
Black Friday - the hallowed day of retail deals -- is getting hijacked by total oddballs.
It's one thing to nab a Black Friday deal on a high-def TV or a snazzy pair of sneakers. But it's something else entirely to snatch a Black Friday discount from the dentist, veterinarian, car wash and yes, even the mortgage lender.
Savvy sellers of traditionally non-holiday services and other stuff are jumping onto the Black Friday gravy train. Everyone wants their cut of the estimated $60 billion or more that holiday shoppers are expected to spend over the four-day weekend. Among them:
• Car wash. Perhaps the most unusual Black Friday offering is at the Prestige Car Wash in Taunton, Mass. Not only is the car wash offering free exterior car washes all day long, but they'll even pay you $1 in cash just for stopping by. The owner of the car wash, Ronen Drory, says he knew he had to do something outside the box to get attention. He expects to wash 1,500 to 2,000 cars on Black Friday and is bringing on four extra employees to help. As each car enters the free wash, he'll personally hand the driver a crisp $1 bill. "This is the kind of thing people will remember 10 years from now," he says.
• Cosmetic dentist. Need whiter teeth for the holidays? On Black Friday, Verde Pointe Dental Associates in Marietta, Ga., rolls out a $500 whitening system for $299 deal. "Yes, Black Friday is a dead day," concedes Julie Kimmerling, the office manager who devised the promotion. "But you don't have to come on Black Friday -- just before the end of the year."
• Veterinarian. Black Friday hasn't just gone to the dogs -- but cats, too. Marietta Vet Clinic is offering a Black Friday special for owners of multiple pets. Pay for one pet to get an exam -- and any other pets you bring in at the same time get theirs free. (You have to pay for the vaccinations, though.) "You can bring in 50," says Kimmerling, who also handles PR for the vet. "But I don't know how you'll fit them all in the car."
• Mortgage lender. Take $500 off your home loan closing costs on Black Friday. That's the come-on from Shore Mortgage, a national lender headquartered in Troy, Mich. "We're doing it for the good-will -- and the PR," says David Hall, president. "Why not? Everybody is getting in on Black Friday."
Just how low can Black Friday go?
"This is absolute proof that Black Friday is a joke -- and a bad one at that," says Kate Newlin, a brand consultant. "It's pathetic."
But the National Retail Federation is all smiles over the PR piggybacking. After all, says spokeswoman Kathy Grannis, "Black Friday is synonymous with bargains."
By Bruce Horovitz