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Support W.Va.’s small businesses

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin


This Friday, the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season starts in earnest. Beginning with Black Friday and ending with Cyber Monday, the traditional shopping spree that follows Thanksgiving is the most important weekend of the year for many retail businesses.

While the excitement of Black Friday can really put you in the holiday spirit, it’s the second day of the shopping weekend that I cheer for – Small Business Saturday. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 28, and small businesses in communities across the state are already gearing up for what is sure to be a successful weekend.

Small businesses represent about 96 percent of all employers in the state, and West Virginia’s small businesses employ more than half of the state’s private workforce. These creative companies include artists in media from fiber to forged metal, bakers who can whip up a mouthwatering pie or the perfect pepperoni roll, and restaurants that cater to tastes from spicy curries to meatloaf like mom used to make. West Virginia small businesses produce a range of goods that make great holiday gifts including Fiesta dinnerware, collegiate apparel, fishing sinkers, marbles, sandals, saunas, artisan salt, and hand-blown glass.

Chances are good that these entrepreneurs and their employees are people you know. They are our friends and neighbors. They are the parents who volunteer with you for school events and the helping hands on civic projects.

A vibrant downtown can boost business, strengthen communities and revitalize the local economy. Research shows that more of the dollars spent with locally owned small businesses tend to stay in the local economy. As consumers, we show our support when we buy from West Virginia’s small businesses in our local communities. As a reminder, Main Street West Virginia and ON TRAC have provided local shops with Small Business Saturday posters to display on doors and in windows.

Shopping small can really add up! Last year, an estimated $14.3 billion was spent at small, independent businesses on Small Business Saturday across the country.

This weekend as you head out to find that perfect Christmas gift for your loved one, please help by shopping small and supporting West Virginia’s hardworking small business owners.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Guest Columnist

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is the 35th and current Governor of West Virginia. He can be reached at 304-558-2000 or 1-888-438-2731. Follow on Twitter @GovTomblin.


Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is the 35th and current Governor of West Virginia. He can be reached at 304-558-2000 or 1-888-438-2731. Follow on Twitter @GovTomblin.

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Chances to save on Black Friday

With the biggest shopping holiday just around the corner, shoppers are gearing up to save.

A National Retail Federation survey finds 135.8 million consumers plan to shop Thanksgiving weekend. Nearly 80 percent of holiday shoppers — 183.8 million people will shop on Cyber Monday.

Small Business Saturday is Saturday. It’s an effort by small business owners across the country to encourage customers in their communities to shop locally.

A number of retailers plan to open their doors earlier this year, beginning early in the morning Thanksgiving Day and lasting through the night. Kmart will open its doors at 6 a.m. Thursday and will provide a number of door-busters and no-money-down layaway through 5 p.m. Walmart starts its holiday sales at 6 p.m. Thursday and will offer a one-hour guarantee on select items. Washington Park Mall will also open early, allowing shoppers to grab those gifts early from 6 p.m. to midnight. The mall will reopen Friday at 9 a.m.

Traditional Black Friday shoppers will still be able to hit stores early Friday morning as well. Staples will open at 6 a.m. Friday for a number of deals on electronics and computer software.

Local retailers will join in on the fun with savings throughout the holiday. The discounts are part of the “Shop Bartlesville, Shop Dewey” campaign put on by the Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, which encourages residents to shop locally for gifts, goods and services. A list of participating retailers can be found online at

In preparation for the holiday rush, the E-E has compiled a list of some of the top items shoppers can grab this Black Friday.


The cooks of the family can purchase a variety of kitchenware at Walmart for under $10, including a Black Decker coffee maker, Farberware deep fryer and Crock-Pot stainless steel five-quart slow cooker. The Rachel Ray 17-piece cookware set is $97, and the T-fal 18-piece ceramic cookware set is $49. Shoppers can also pick up a 20-piece dinnerware set at Walmart for $19.

Embrace your crafty side with a Singer 12-Stitch Start sewing machine available for $70 at Kmart. Kmart is also offering your choice of a Hamilton Beach multi-function blender, 12-cup coffee maker or five-quart programmable slow cooker for $25 each.


Shoppers can snag a FitBit from Walmart for $59 (regularly priced at $99) on Thursday evening. The Roku 32-inch Class Smart HDTV will also be on sale for $125, as well as the Samsung 55-inch Class Curved 4K Smart UHD TV for $998. The 16-gigabyte iPad Mini 2 with Wi-Fi can be picked up at Walmart for $199 — a savings of $69. Beats studio headphones are $169 a pair.

Smartphone activation begins at 9 p.m. Thursday at Walmart. ATT and Verizon customers can set up an appointment that night at 6 p.m. and will receive a $100 Black Friday gift card for any iPhone or Samsung smartphone activated.

Staples has the Toshiba C55-C5379 laptop with Windows 10 available for $300 after easy rebate — a $200 savings — as well as a Samsung True 24-inch monitor for $100. The HP LaserJet Pro P1109w printer can be purchased for $50, and Vexa mesh desk chairs are $50 each. Pick up a PNY Turbo 128-gigabyte USB 3.0 flash drive for only $20.


A Black Decker 18-volt cordless drill, complete with 64-piece project tool kit, is only $49 at Walmart. DIY-ers can also purchase a Stanley 171-piece black chrome mechanic’s tool set with bonus 19-piece set for $44 or a Shop-Vac five-gallon wet/dry vacuum for under $20.

Kmart will offer a Craftsman 166-piece mechanic’s tool set for $70 — the store’s lowest price ever on the set.


Fans of Disney’s “Frozen” can grab Elsa’s Ice Palace play set for $99 at Walmart. Marvel 20-inch figures are also on sale for $10 each. Early drivers can pick up select children’s cars, reaching speeds of 2.5 miles-per-hour, for $99 each. A 14-inch trampoline combo, including enclosure, can be purchased for $154 — a savings of $113.

Select board games at Kmart will be offered from $5-$9 each. Barbie Career or Fashionista dolls, as well as 12-inch Marvel figures, are available for $5. Disney’s Frozen Quad six-volt toy car can be purchased at Kmart as well for $60.

Video games/consoles

Pick up the PlayStation 4 Uncharted bundle for $299 on Thursday at Walmart. The bundle comes with a PlayStation 4, controller and copy of “Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection.” Walmart will also offer a Wii U deluxe set, which includes a Wii U and games “Super Smash Bros.” and “Splatoon,” for $249. The Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition Starter Pack for PlayStation 4, as well as the Skylanders Superchargers Starter Pack for Xbox 360, are both available for $37.

Walmart will also have “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” available for $29 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Shoppers can save on controllers as well, with PlayStation 4 black or Xbox One black or camo controllers on sale for $39.

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Mystery Diner: Randall’s Pancake House has ‘family’ feel

Whatever it is, chances are that Randall’s Pancake House in South Elgin has it.

Located at 305 Randall Road (near the Jewel-Osco), Randall’s Pancake Houseoffers both breakfast and lunch and is open from 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week.

According to the restaurant’s website,, the key word at Randall’s Pancake House is “family.”

“We are a family-owned, family-operated, family friendly restaurant in South Elgin … ,” the site states. “Our restaurant offers a quiet atmosphere, with a nice, warming decor that will make you feel right at home, surrounded by family! Our staff is friendly and accommodating, too, and will make you feel completely welcome!”

That has been the case each time I have eaten at Randall’s Pancake House. On my most recent trip –on a sunny, crisp day in November –I was greeted at the front of the restaurant by its owner.

Requesting a booth, the owner told me he could get one ready in moments, noting the empty booths closest to the door sometimes were affected by a breeze when the weather was cooler.

I was seated in a snap and was shortly joined by a friend from my childhood. We were just two of many in a diverse crowd eating at the restaurant during lunchtime on this particular Thursday.

Coffee came quickly, as my friend and I looked over the menu.

Pancakes (including ones labeled Barry Blast, King Kong and Miss Piggy), French toast (including The Donut, Summer Sunshine and AJ’s Apple) and a variety of crepes, waffles, blintzes, croissant sandwiches, omelets, skillets and more are among the breakfast items to choose from.

I went with the German Benedict, two crispy potato pancakes topped with bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, served with hashbrowns, for $9.25.

Meanwhile, my friend went with one of the house specials, the Breakfast Burrito, which is a large flour tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs, sausage, green peppers, onions, black olives and cheddar cheese. The meal came with hashbrowns, a side of sour cream and a side of salsa. Its listed price is $8.55 (though my friend ordered her Breakfast Burrito with no onions and with avocado added).

“The food was delicious,” my friend –a former waitress herself –noted midway between our meal. She also appreciated that our waitressstopped by the table often to refill our coffee cups, describing her as “friendly.”

I liked the German take on the eggs Benedict. The bacon and potato pancakes worked well together, and the hollandaise sauce wasn’t too thick, which I have found to be the case at other restaurants.

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How to (sort of) make pumpkin pie without an oven

Pumpkin pie: a flavor profile so popular it forces Trader Joe’s to replace roughly half its stock with pumpkin-themed products every fall (those “Pumpkin Walks into a Bar” bars are delicious, though) and makes Starbucks start serving PSLs in September. There are countless ways to make the dish, but what if your oven is too busy roasting a turkey? As long as you’re not too hung up on traditions, you can have your pie and eat it (or drink it), too.

In the microwave


OK, this recipe from The Kitchen isn’t for a true pumpkin pie, more like a deconstructed pie. You melt butter in the microwave, mash in some ginger snaps, then mix together pumpkin puree, egg, milk or cream, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice and stick it back in the microwave. It may not be like what Grandma made, but it’s closer than a pumpkin spice latte and it works well if you don’t want to make a whole big dessert for a small gathering. If you want something closer to a traditional pie, check out this recipe.

In the dishwasher

Mason jars and Thanksgiving go together like mason jars and weddings, right? Anyway, lots of people rave about cooking salmon in the dishwasher, so why not pumpkin pie? What do you know? We found a recipe over at The Country Chic Cottage. Again, you’re not going to stick it in a regular pie dish — too soggy. Instead you do layers of different ingredients, sort of like a pumpkin pie trifle.

In the slow cooker

While microwave and dishwasher pumpkin pie recipes were few and far between, slow-cooker pumpkin pie is pretty popular. There are several with no crust, a few with crust, one for a pumpkin pie pudding, and another for a cake. And if you’re still craving the flavor the next morning, you can try pumpkin pie oatmeal.

In the blender

If you’re looking for something closer to Cold Stone than straight out of the oven, you can try a pumpkin pie milkshake. KitchenAid has a recipe that sounds like a meal in itself. Or you could probably just take a slice of pie your mom made and put it in the blender with some ice cream. We’ll get back to you on that one.

On the stove


And of course, there’s always no-bake!

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