Research and strategy required for fruitful Black Friday shopping

November 25, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • Shoppers wait outside the Hagerstown Prime Outlets stores, Thursday night for early Black Friday sales that start at 9 p.m.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

Research and strategy were among the requirements for fruitful shopping trips as thousands of residents descended on area stores on Black Friday.

"We got started at 7:30 last night," said Candice Gilliland of Shirleysburg, Pa., in Huntingdon County.

With her husband, Brett, and neighbor, Tricia Morgan, they came directly to Hagerstown, hitting Walmart first.

"We scoped out all the electronics we wanted and strategically placed ourselves" around the store to limit shopping and checkout time, Gilliland said.

"We made good time" at all the stores but one, Morgan said. "But we got what we wanted. We definitely saved money on Black Friday, but we also lost a lot of sleep."

William and Vicky Evans of Frostburg, Md., did not start shopping until about 6 a.m. Friday, "but we shopped on the Internet last night," William said.

Their daughter had a baby on Wednesday, and they stayed in Hagerstown with family Thursday.

The couple went online to secure some "doorbuster" bargains they wanted from Bon-Ton. They still went to the department store at the Valley Mall.

"Bon-Ton really had good bargains this year, and it was well-stocked," Vicky Evans said.

Their mood seemed as sunny as the weather, likely buoyed by the polite sales people and fellow shoppers they encountered, William Evans said.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army had its kettles and bell ringers out collecting money for those who likely cannot afford to splurge on Black Friday.

Merle Mills of Hagerstown said the contributions had been steady. Unfortunately, the $1 billion bill one person handed him as a joke was non-negotiable, the retiree said.

"I like helping them because they helped me" when he was a young man, Mills said of the Salvation Army.

In the concourse of the mall a group of women rested their feet on a couch, a significant number of shopping bags surrounding them.

"There's a considerable number of bags in the vehicles now," said Donna Spinks of Martinsburg, W.Va.

Spinks was there with her daughters, Andrea and Samantha Spinks, Kimberly Miller and future daughter-in-law, Kendra Avey.

Their expedition started the night before at Walmart in Martinsburg, and Donna Spinks figured they would wrap things up at about 8 or 9 p.m.

"We take a breakfast break and a dinner break," Donna said.

It was nearing lunch time, and they were about to hit Kohl's the Christmas Tree Store and some other retailers.

Pausing outside of Sears, Ruthie Davenport of Chambersburg, Pa., and her daughters, Linde and Stephanie, said they took a different approach to Black Friday, deciding to forego the latenight or early morning waits for stores to open.

"We went out early about two years ago, and we pretty much figured it wasn't worth it," Stephanie said.

At 5 p.m. on Thursday they had gone by the Target and Walmart stores in Chambersburg, where they saw lines forming hours before the stores opened.

"We wait until the crowds die down," Linde said. "You're not tired, you're not sick, you're not grumpy."

"But it's still a tradition," Ruthie said.

Sisters Darla and Kim Eader and grandmother Virginia Schriever of Warfordsburg, Pa., also decided to skip the midnight openings, leaving home at 7 a.m.

"I don't think it's as busy as it used to be," Kim said as they loaded purchases outside Target. They experienced no incredibly long lines to get in or check out of stores, Darla said.

Despite the relatively late start, they said they were finding all the things on their shopping lists.

"There were hundreds of people at all the mall entrances waiting to get in" Thursday night, said Michele Wills, marketing director at Valley Mall.

The mall's announced opening was 5 a.m., but 22 stores opened at midnight, and many people wanted to get their shopping done early, she said.

"We had our biggest crowds between midnight and 4 or 4:30 a.m.," Wills said.

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