First Black Friday: started late but still found deals, felt rush

Julie Frank

Julie Frank

Unlike most Americans, I have never experienced the rush of shopping on the biggest day of the year, Black Friday. The deals never seemed good enough to stand out in front of a store in the freezing cold hours before it opened. I didn’t have the desire to push my way through a strong-willed crowd doing anything to save a few bucks. It always seemed a bit crazy to me.

With the weak economy and my even sadder checkbook, I thought it might be beneficial to put on my armor, grab my war purse and check out the deals. After all, Christmas is right around the corner.

Preparing for my first Black Friday shopping event, I scoped out the ads ahead of time online. Then I saw it, a light shone down on it from the heavens while the angels sang “Hallelujah.” The Nikon D-SLR camera I’ve been wanting for years was on sale for $200 off.

I knew I had to get to Best Buy long before the sun was up. It took some convincing and a little bribing, but I finally assembled a shopping team and bodyguards. My team was a little iffy about the whole idea of hitting the road by 3 a.m., with a chance of not capturing the goods. In the end, I let them convince me into ordering the camera online; I guess you can get the same deals online. However, I didn’t let them talk me out of my first Black Friday experience.

We hit the road by 10:30 and judging by the line of cars waiting to get into the mall, we didn’t miss the rush. Those feelings of anxiousness and ambition came back to me. I scavenged the store and maneuvered through the crowd to get the leftover deals before the doorbusters ended. With my purchases in hand, my adrenaline returned to normal as I headed home from a satisfying Black Friday shopping trip.

I didn’t have the “traditional” Black Friday experience by waking long before the birds, but I contributed to the $10.6 million spent by consumers nationwide, according to ShopperTrak’s Web site, a shopper traffic counting software. That number is three percent higher from last year.

Retail businesses in Brookings experienced a piece of that pie.

Shopper’s arrived at Wal-Mart at 5 a.m. to cash in on deals on televisions, computers and toys, according to Dennis Tramp, the store’s manager.

Tramp said, “a lot of people were out and about,” enjoying the savings, and it took a week to prepare the store for the rush.

David Hafenbreidel, store manager of JCPenny in the University Mall, said the store began preparing 30 days in advance. An estimated 30 to 40 customers lined outside JCPenny’s doors before they opened at 4 a.m. The store offered doorbuster deals until 1 p.m., which included women’s leather coats under $50 and men’s leather coats under $70. Hafenbreidel said big sellers included a five-piece luggage set, fine jewelry, bed pillows and bath towels.

Locally owned stores also experienced the crowds this past weekend. The Gift Gallery, located on Main Street, saw an increase in shoppers on Saturday, according to Tammy Minor, the store’s owner. Minor said the store operated during normal business hours but became busy after shoppers took advantage of early sales elsewhere. Besides gifts, customers picked up holiday decorations like garland, wreaths and snowmen. Sales were available on a variety of items, such as 30 percent off on handbags. The Gift Gallery will also feature specials throughout the month.

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