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When you go shopping and you want a good gift, you can always go "Downtown"

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If you've been watching the network news and morning shows the past few weeks, you've no doubt been inundated with Black Friday previews: how much you can save, the best stores, the best deals, the best times, online or instore, appliances or tech; clothing or tech, high-def TVs or designer dark glasses.

Phew! If you feel like you've been a little bit played, hey, acceptance is the first step.

Now think of this. When was the last time you watched a spot on the NBC Nightly News or GMA or PBS Newshour that they talked about Plaid Friday or Shop Small Saturday.

You probably can't remember. And if you can, you'll agree it's maybe one lonely story amid hundreds about Black Friday at those big-box stores.

In other words, you've been programmed and primed for this Black Friday ruse.

Ruse, you say?

Well, often when you get to the big box store, you'll find there's fine print like:

It's just three to a store, no rain checks

You have to get a store credit card

The discount's not on this model, it's only on that model without the (fill in the blank)

That discount was only between 4:15 a.m. and 4:18 a.m.

And my favorite: When you get home, put the batteries in and turn it on, you find it's just plain junk.

The national television networks play into this because they benefit from the national corporate advertisers who pay millions of dollars for not only the ads, but also to nudge the networks into these canned stories, which are called "advertorials."

I'm not saying don't go to the big box stores at all. I'm saying today, Plaid Friday; and tomorrow, Shop Small Saturday, give downtown a try.

And after you're down there checking out the nooks and crannies of Rochester's downtown's retail district, have a lunch or dinner or beer or cocktail at one of our truly fine restaurants or bars.

And don't forget to give the family shops in Milton and Lebanon a try as well.

I guarantee they'll have things you won't find in the big box stores, like the appreciative service and great prices that only mom and pop operations have.

Don't believe all the hype on TV. Get out and see for yourself what local retailers are offering and get that special someone a truly unique Christmas present they'll remember long after those big boxes are folded up for recycling.

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