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Shoppers seek sales

November 24, 2000

Shoppers seek sales



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY, DAN KULIN and RICHARD BELISLE / Staff Writers


Helicopters whirled above the crowd of holiday shoppers at Valley Mall in Hagerstown on Black Friday.

"Zoom Coptor" salesman Dave Heidtke had already sold nearly 400 of the pull-string whirlybirds by 1 p.m., he said.

"It's something unique and different," said Lucille Knoll, of Chambersburg, Pa., who bought five of the toy choppers for her grandchildren.

Knoll joined the thousands of people who flocked to Tri-State area stores Friday for holiday gift buying on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The Black Friday name is derived from the tradition of heavy Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving helping businesses turn a profit, or go "in the black" for the year.

Fred Minniefield drove almost two hours from his home in Clinton, Md., to shop at the Prime Outlets at Hagerstown.

Minniefield said shopping on Black Friday has become a family tradition. This year, he and his wife will spend about $1,200, he said.

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"We finish up the shopping, go home and put the tree up," Minniefield said.

"This is my first Black Friday," said Chambersburg resident Anita Cramer, who toted an armload of family board games, including the popular "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," to the counter at Kay-Bee Toys in Valley Mall.

"It's been fun. I've found a lot of savings. But I should have gotten here earlier," Cramer said.

Eager shoppers were waiting outside when toy store manager Vernon Campbell arrived at 3:30 a.m. By 5 a.m., more than 200 customers stood in line to take advantage of early bird specials on such hot sellers as Thunderbolt scooters, Celebration Barbie dolls and Tekno the Robot Puppy, Campbell said.

The store's "unbelievably cooperative" customers took numbers for those items, which sold out, he said.

Randy Lewis, owner of R. Lewis Clothier in Martinsburg, W.Va., also offered Black Friday discounts.

"It's been busy in here all day, and people are buying big-ticket items," he said.

Fleece jackets and hoods were flying out of the "Winter Warmers" kiosk at Valley Mall, owner Brian Kim said.

"Those are the ultimate items" for cold weather, he said. "The hunters love them."

About 1,500 paying customers - nearly double the number of shoppers on a typical day - had made their way through Toys 'R Us in Hagerstown by mid-morning Friday, store manager Ted Kalkbrenner said.

The turnout was also "sensational" Friday at The Bon-Ton in Valley Mall, General Manager Alan Kreinkamp said.

He opened the department store's doors to some 400 people at 6 a.m., and lines formed at every cash register until about noon, he said.

In addition to buying gifts for family and friends, Bon-Ton shoppers helped charitable causes by purchasing dozens of the store's signature "Benton" teddy bears and picking names from its "Wish Tree," Kreinkamp said.

For each Benton sale, $1 is donated to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Bon-Ton workers wrap and deliver presents purchased for Wish Tree recipients.

The names of clients at Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused in Hagerstown fill this year's tree, Kreinkamp said.

Mike and Jane Powers of Hagerstown began their shopping at 6:30 a.m. and were on their way into Dick's Clothing and Sporting Goods at the Centre at Hagerstown about four hours later.

"A couple of gifts the grandkids wanted were on sale today and we wanted to make sure we got them," Mike Powers said.

"Earlier it wasn't that bad, but now the lines are getting long," Jane Powers said.

Meredith Wait, co-owner of Dickinson and Wait Craft Gallery in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said Friday's booming business indicated a "strong year for all businesses in Shepherdstown."

Susan Stewart, owner of the Freed Spirit Christian Bookstore in Waynesboro, Pa., also looked forward to a busy holiday season.

"I'm expecting a good holiday season based on business last year," she said.

Hot items among the Christian community this year are books from "Left Behind," a series based on Revelations in the Bible, Stewart said.

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