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TWIN FALLS — Jensen Jewelers CEO Tony Prater has high hopes for the holiday shopping season.

Since construction began on a new City Hall and a public gathering area downtown, Prater has seen an increase in people visiting local downtown businesses.

“Our business has almost doubled because people now are seeing something happening,” said Prater, who also heads up the Downtown Twin group of local businesses.

And the rise in traffic could continue, as many people have already started their gift shopping early, ordering custom items at Jensen Jewelers downtown.

On the cusp of the busiest season for retailers, area businesses are making preparations for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

“We’re certainly encouraging folks to shop locally,” said Shawn Barigar, Twin Falls mayor and Chamber of Commerce CEO.

Barigar read a proclamation Monday during the City Council meeting in support of Small Business Saturday.

Here’s what a few retailers in the area had to say about their plans Friday and Saturday.

Jensen Jewelers at 133 Shoshone St. N. and 1485 Pole Line Road E. will open 6 a.m. for Black Friday, with door-buster specials, including featured blue diamond earrings.

In Rupert, Mad River Laser at 502 E. St. will be open on Black Friday for the first time.

“As we’ve gotten bigger, we’ve gotten a lot of requests to be open,” Sales Manager Tamara Long-Partei said.

The store sells personalized gifts and can engrave on wood or metal. Staff have already been taking orders from families and businesses.

“Everything in the store will be on sale,” Long-Partei said.

Hot cider will be available for customers, who’ll have a chance to earn free gifts when they spend a certain amount.

Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, but may be extended Friday.

Fashion 15 Below, at 143 Main Ave. E. in Twin Falls, will participate in Black Friday for the first time. It opened in February.

“We get new customers in here every day,” owner Erin Rigel said.

The clothing store will have extended hours, with door-buster specials between 8 a.m. and noon. The store carries women’s clothing in sizes 0 to 22 for $15 or less. Rigel said she has more than 10,000 items with new arrivals daily.

Fashion 15 Below will open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. It’s also open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Deseret Book will have extended hours from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, with specials starting for its rewards program members now until Thanksgiving.

The bookstore, affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offers books, gifts and more than 300 nativities.

“A good half of our items are non-denominational,” said Richard Crowley, the store’s general manager.

Crowley expects this holiday shopping season to compare with years past.

“It’s a big month for retail,” he said.

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