Plaid-clad shoppers were out supporting local businesses during Belfast's inaugural Plaid Friday Night Owl Prowl on the evening of Friday, Nov. 29, when many downtown shops and restaurants were open late, offering discounts, specials and in-store events.

"We are still collecting feedback … but based on the initial response, and also from this shopper's perspective, the first Night Owl Prowl was a success," said Breanna Bebb, executive director of Our Town Belfast. "You could feel an almost electric energy as folks walked up and down the streets from shop to shop under the old fashioned lights and wreaths." Our Town Belfast coordinated the event.

As for why they called it "Plaid Friday," Bebb explained that it is a term being used to promote shopping in local small businesses and downtowns as an alternative to the Black Friday big-box/mall experience that has become so popular.

That evening, Vinolio hosted a free port and chocolate tasting with Kate and Bixby Bar chocolates, and offered a discount on oils.

Out on a Whimsey offered complimentary Moonbat City Baking Company cookies and hot chocolate as well as a store-wide discount, which, like many of the participating stores' discounts, increased for shoppers wearing plaid.

Michelle Walker, owner of Coyote Moon, said "People were in the store the whole time, and they were definitely excited." The store was giving away scarves with every purchase of $40 or more.

The event coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Green Store's opening, which owners and shoppers celebrated with cake, music and Champagne. The Green Store also donated 20 percent of its sales from that night through Sunday Dec. 1 to the Maine People's Alliance.

Some establishments came up with their own rules, adding to the game-like atmosphere. Yo Mamma's Home offered a 15-minute, 25-percent discount to every ninth person to enter the store, and Rollie's Bar & Grill offered their staff discount of 25 percent that evening to anyone with $150 worth of participating retailers receipts dated the day of the event. Rollie's staff said that one dedicated shopper came in with all the receipts necessary to take them up on the offer.

Our Town Belfast plans to do it again next year and would like to see the event expand to include art-walk type additions and holiday entertainment.

"People seemed so happy to be out enjoying Belfast at night," Bebb said. "Especially for people who work a nine-to-five type job, the hours that small businesses are open aren't always convenient. I think that folks were grateful for an 'after hours' shopping opportunity in their downtown."