HOUSTON - Malls and big box stores were packed Black Friday as shoppers clamored to get holiday deals. But some customers were purposely avoiding big chain stores.

"The atmosphere is much more relaxed and you get unique things," said Gloria Mitchell. "We've been coming to Old Town Spring the day after Thanksgiving for 25 years."

Old Town's decorated shops and restaurants were full of customers hoping to find an alternative Black Friday shopping experience.

"We figured this might be a little more laid back," said Anabelle. "We are relaxing on Black Friday, taking in the sights and spending time with family."

The businesses along 19th street in the Heights were also open for holiday shoppers.

Cody Reaves, owner of the Fly High Little Bunny Jewelry store, says he sees a steady stream of customers during the holidays at his store, but Black Friday isn't necessarily more busier than the average Saturday.

"We can't sell TVs for 150 dollars," he jokes. "It's not so crazy, you can walk down the street, go to a café and you won't have trouble parking."

While customers won't find the crowds or lines, Reaves says they will find unique items since each store along the strand on 19th street is independently owned.

Merchants are hoping customers will support them for "Small Business Saturday" this weekend and "Holidays on 19th Street" on December 3rd.

Businesses in Old Town Spring will have street performers and festive displays to attract customers on weekends now thru December 24th.