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Downtown shoppers avoid hype

November 27, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Many of those shopping Friday in downtown Hagerstown did so, they said, to avoid crowds at local malls and retail centers.

Too many people head to the mall, said Ruth Rinehart, of Greencastle, Pa., after a shopping trip to Carol & Company on West Washington Street.

"It's not overly crowded and there's more unique stuff," Rinehart said.

She and her daughter, Maggie Ayres, have a holiday tradition of lunch and shopping on Black Friday. This year, as usual, they ate at The Plum before going to Carol & Company.

"A lot of families come back year after year," said Sarah Ardinger, owner of The Plum. On Friday, the downtown eatery served several large parties, she said.

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"Holidays are traditionally good days for us," she said.

The Potomac Bead Company was seeing a "steady trickle" of customers Friday, manager Jenni Jones said.

People who don't like the hyped-up crowds of Black Friday tend to come downtown the day after Thanksgiving, Jones said.

Ken Lawson of Myersville, Md., purchased a gift certificate Friday from The Potomac Bead Company.

"I'm not going anywhere near a Wal-Mart today," Lawson said.

He drove by Valley Mall on his way into town.

"It was too crowded. They were coming from all directions," Lawson said.

He was heading to Carol & Company to purchase more gifts, he said.

A chalkboard on the sidewalk advertised Black Friday specials at Carol & Company.

The most popular of the sales was the giveaway of a Vera Bradley tote with the purchase of $100 in other merchandise from that designer, said co-owner Pat Spellar.

Darlene Dietrich and her daughter, Breen Dietrich, were browsing through the Vera Bradley merchandise early Friday afternoon.

The pair had started their shopping at 10 p.m. Thursday, visiting Prime Outlets and other local retailers before heading downtown. They did manage to get some sleep, Darlene Dietrich said.

The store always does well on Black Fridays, although the day isn't that much busier than a regular weekday, Spellar said.

"There are always people in here," she said.

For R. Bruce Carson Jewelers on Public Square, it was a slow day despite an advertised $2,995 1-carat diamond special, office manager Nancy Crider said.

The store usually gets busier as the holiday season goes on, Crider said. She's worked there 26 years, and it's always hard to predict how busy it will be, she said.

"We may get busier when people are done with mall shopping," Crider said.

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