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A long day's shopping into night

Washington County malls, stores packed with early birds looking for bargains

Washington County malls, stores packed with early birds looking for bargains

November 29, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Polly Mellott arrived at Prime Outlets at Hagerstown Thursday at 10:45 p.m. to get a good parking spot for the midnight opening.

By Friday at 7:30 a.m., Mellott was resting on a bench outside J.C. Penney at Valley Mall.

Mellott was shopping with her daughter, Ann Bittinger of Artemas, Pa., and her daughter-in-law, Kim Mellott. After shopping at the outlets, the women went to Wal-Mart, then arrived at the mall after 7 a.m.

Mellott was shopping for gifts and found good specials, she said.

"I've gotten some pretty good deals, especially on electronics," Bittinger said.

Despite a long night of shopping, they expected to continue shopping through the afternoon, the women said.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally is known as one of the busiest shopping days of the year. As the name suggests, Black Friday is the day that retailers expect to turn the profit that will take them out of red ink - losses - and put them in the black.

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Local retailers said they were happy with Friday's turnout.

As of noon, Valley Mall had more than 41,000 visitors, about 3,500 more than at the same time last year, said Brian Kaltenbaugh, the mall's marketing director.

Several stores at Prime Outlets had lines out the door, said Rachia Green, general manager of the outlets. Green could not provide the number of visitors to the outlets Friday, but said that at midnight, people wearing pajamas were lined up from the food court to the Reebok outlet waiting for one of the goody bags given to the first 500 customers to show up in pajamas.

Maryland State Police said traffic was "heavy" around the time of the Prime Outlets opening. Green said she could see from the outlets that Interstate 70 was backed up around that time.

Several vehicles had to be towed from Prime Outlets property because they were parked in unauthorized areas, she said.

Many area shoppers - such as Roxanne Staubs of Hagerstown - started their days at Kohl's, which opened Friday at 4 a.m. She was looking for items for her children, and the specials were good on Friday, she said. Stores seemed to actually have plenty of everything this year, Staubs said while waiting in line to check out at Target.

Staubs said she shops on Black Friday every year, and expected to be out and about until about 8 p.m.

"I'm crazy," Staubs said. "I'll be tired."

'We should have been here at 4'

By 6:30 a.m., Kohl's shoppers were waiting in long lines for the registers, and some expected to be in line for 45 minutes to an hour.

Clothing displays already were rumpled, and folded jeans on display in the boys department had fallen from a shelf to the floor. A man's glove was hanging with shirts in the women's department.

Renee Haines of Martinsburg, W.Va., had started her shopping at Kohl's about 6 .m., she said.

"We should have been here at 4," said Haines, who said she had a hard time finding the cookware she wanted, as there were only a few sets left by the time she got to the store.

Haines was waiting in a line, and estimated it would take 45 minutes before she got to the cash register. Her mother, sister and a friend continued to shop as she held the place in line.

Holiday tradition

For some women and their daughters, shopping on Black Friday is a tradition.

Tonia Holmes of Hagerstown and her daughters shop every year on Black Friday, she said.

"We just kind of do it to get in the Christmas spirit," she said while standing in a line for customer service at Kohl's.

They started Friday morning at 4 a.m. at Prime Outlets.

"Tons of people" had been shopping at the outlets, said Holmes' daughter, Alison, 15.

They were planning on heading to Valley Mall after they finished at Kohl's, Holmes said.

Lines were even longer at Target, which opened Friday at 6 a.m.

Store manager Brian Rising said about 7 a.m. that traffic at the store had been good. More than 100 employees were working at Target on Friday morning, he said.

Although every register was on, lines in Target stretched from the registers halfway through the store, with one line reaching from the registers to the electronics department. The toys and electronics section were the most crowded departments, and customers were asking store employees whether items had sold out.

Ann Barnett of Greencastle, Pa., was shopping at Prime Outlets Friday about 11 a.m. She had started her day at Kohl's at 3:30 a.m. The only really long lines had been at Target, she said.

Amie Hess-Taylor and Kellie Tumblin, both of Inwood, W.Va., started their morning at 3 a.m. While waiting in line to check out at Target, Tumblin was checking her list of items she had seen in ads and wanted to pick up.

"If it's still there. I'm not going to fight anybody," she said.

Having started at KB Toys, the women also had been to Wal-Mart before arriving at Target. They also planned to stop by Kmart, Toys R Us, Bon-Ton, Bath & Body Works, Best Buy and Circuit City, they said.

"We'll be out all day," Hess-Taylor said.

Lynda Thompson of Shepherdstown, W.Va., had planned to go to Wal-Mart after Kohl's, her first stop of the day. But Wal-Mart was "crazy, and we just left," she said about 8 a.m. while shopping at Valley Mall. Thompson, who was shopping with her daughter and daughter-in-law, was looking for gifts. She expected to purchase mostly clothes, cookware and jewelry.

At 8 a.m., the food court at Valley Mall was busy serving hungry shoppers. Despite the early hour, many munched on pizza and lunch sandwiches, and McDonald's was doing a brisk business in breakfast sandwiches.

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