The day after

Thousands of people put down their forks and wade into shopping centers

Thousands of people put down their forks and wade into shopping centers

November 25, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Shoppers streamed out of the 30,000 cars parked within walking distance of Prime Outlets at Hagerstown during the early morning hours as the shopping center held its first Black Friday midnight opening.

Around midnight, headlights shone for as far as the eye could see on westbound Interstate 70 as drivers slowly made their way to Exit 29. Some cars ran out of gas while idling on the interstate, said Rachia Green, marketing manager for Prime Outlets at Hagerstown.

Some of the shoppers scored parking spots in the outlets' lot or on grassy areas near the stores. Others parked at gas stations.

Some stores had so many customers, they allowed only a few shoppers in at a time, Green said.

"Merchants were overwhelmed, in a good way," she said.

By Friday afternoon, more than 40,000 cars had delivered shoppers to the outlets, Green said.

Shoppers who wore their pajamas for the outlets' Midnight Madness Pajama Jam received free goody bags, Green said. A few thousand people already were in line for the bags Thursday at 11:45 p.m., said Green, who noted the lines started forming at 9 p.m.


Some shoppers wandered around in bathrobes. One girl had her hair rolled up in pink curlers.

Liza Walters of Hagerstown called the scene at the outlets "outrageous."

"It's like a pajama party," Walters said.

Cindy Schott, an au pair from Germany working in Hagerstown, was shopping with Walters. Schott wanted to buy "nice gifts for myself," she said.

"You have real sales," Schott said. "You can get cheap stuff. Germany is not the same."

"We're crazy," said Ashlee Smith, as she and her friend, Mary Twigg, stood outside holding Adidas and Aeropostale bags.

Smith, who along with Twigg traveled to the outlets from Cumberland, Md., was shoved into a glass wall inside Aeropostale while she was browsing, she said.

Howard Foltz of Hagerstown sat in the food court waiting for his wife and daughter to finish their shopping.

"They're doing the shopping, and I'm holding the bags," he said.

Washington County Sheriff's Department deputies were on hand to handle crowd control.

"The crowd was getting rowdy at the Ralph Lauren store," Sgt. Todd Kerns said. No arrests were made, he said.

Susan Rutter started her shopping day at the outlets at midnight. By 10:30 a.m., she was resting on a bench inside Valley Mall.

"I never saw such a mess," said Rutter when describing her shopping experience at Prime Outlets. "I'm not so sure I enjoy it as much as I used to."

But she headed to Valley Mall for its 6 a.m. opening, said Rutter, of Greencastle, Pa.

"It's worse this year than ever," said Ann Landis, Rutter's mother.

Landis might have been right. Almost 30 percent of Americans planned on doing some shopping Friday, according to poll numbers released by Consumer Reports. Last year, 26 percent said they shopped on Black Friday. One in seven shoppers wanted to be in line for early-bird specials this year, according to Consumer Reports.

Red Cross collects blood at Valley Mall

In the spirit of giving, the American Red Cross set up a blood drive on Black Friday in the community room at Valley Mall.

The blood drive has become an annual tradition, said Carol Dyer, who was managing the blood drive Friday morning.

The Red Cross usually collects about 30 pints of blood at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving, she said.

Most shoppers take a break and donate about midway through their shopping, Dyer said.

"It's tradition for some people to donate the day after Thanksgiving," she said.

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