Some Hagerstown-area retailers expect to be busy this Black Friday

November 26, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- When Joe Hamilton arrived at Kohl's last year at 2 a.m. to open the store on Black Friday, people already were huddled under blankets at the front door, awaiting the 4 a.m. opening.

Hamilton, store manager for the Hagerstown Kohl's, said he expects a big crowd again this year.

"Gift-giving is an important part of the holiday season," he said. "We're expecting a very busy store."

Kohl's is one of a number of area stores that will open early Friday.

Valley Mall opens at 5 a.m., with the Bon-Ton opening at 4 a.m., and JCPenney welcoming customers even earlier, at 3:30 a.m.

As in years past, Prime Outlets in Hagerstown will be the first to open, at midnight.

Both Valley Mall and Prime Outlets encourage shoppers to shop in their pajamas. At Prime Outlets, the first 500 customers to show up clad in pajamas get a goodie bag, said Angie Nichols, marketing manager.


Valley Mall is participating in Operation PJ Pileup, held at several places owned by Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which collects warm sleepwear and books for distribution to tens of thousands of abused or abandoned children, according to a news release. Customers in pajamas will help create a "fun, party atmosphere," said Brian Kaltenbaugh, marketing director for Valley Mall.

Local retailers said they are not concerned that a tight economy will keep shoppers at home on Black Friday, traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

"Being an outlet, we have a really strong position because we do have such good savings year-round," Nichols said.

The outlets in Hagerstown have seen an increase in local residents shopping there because they are able to shop frugally, she said.

Some think shoppers will make more careful decisions this year, however.

"We know that the shoppers are going to put a lot of thought prior to spending," Hamilton said.

While they agree there is no one "must-have" item this year, local retailers can guess which will be the most popular.

GPS units have been a popular gift lately, Hamilton said. The jewelry department and toy section are also popular during the gift-giving season, he said.

Target spokeswoman Michaela Gleason listed the Apple 8GB iPod Touch and Guitar Hero World Tour Guitar Controller as the two items the company expects will be the most popular among shoppers this season. Sweaters, wine glasses, chocolates and Elmo Live were also on the list.

The Apple 8GB iPod is also on the Toys R Us list of Hot Toys this holiday season, according to a news release available at the company's Web site.

"A lot of home entertaining items are big," Kaltenbaugh said. The Wii video game consoles continue to be popular, he said.

According to survey information available at the National Retail Federation's Web site, Barbie tops the list of most popular toys for girls this year, and video games are the most popular toys for boys. The Nintendo Wii is also on the list of toys for boys. Elmo appears on both lists.

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