Press-Republican

November 24, 2012

Early start to Black Friday pulls in many shoppers

People flock to stores as Black Friday begins lateThursday

By SUZANNE MOORE and DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Teri Blake and her daughter-in-law Bridget Stone saw both the naughty and nice of Black Friday.

”There were people punching people over pillows,” Blake said of their middle-of-the-night Wal-Mart experience.

And as the Plattsburgh pair waited amid a crowd at the electronics counter, they saw one woman step up just to ask a question, she said.

”If you wait on her, I’m going to come right across that counter,” Blake remembered another shopper threatening the clerk. “I’ve been waiting three hours.”

”It was crazy,” Stone agreed.

The two began their traditional Black Friday experience at 8 p.m. Thursday, shopped until 3 a.m. then hit the stores again three hours later.

”I felt guilty shopping,” Stone admitted. “It was Thanksgiving!”

But the deals sucked her in, including a Play Station game that normally sells for $64.95 (including tax), that Wal-Mart offered for about $38.

SONY iPod docks were half-price at $50.

”We got the last two,” Blake said.

WISH LISTS IN HAND

Outside Champlain Centre mall just after 9 a.m., sisters Lenee Gordon and Lecole Cragle unloaded a pile of Target purchases from shopping cart to the back of a van.

They had set out to shop at 6:30 a.m.

”We’ve been here the whole time, Gordon said, laughing.

She comes home to Dannemora for Thanksgiving every year, and Black Friday with her sister is part of the tradition.

They don’t do a lot of homework before embarking on their shopping adventure, Gordon said, just peruse the sale circulars then sneak the kids’ Christmas wish lists into their purses.

This year, her daughter Julia, 14, came along to do some shopping of her own, choose some gifts she wants to find under the tree and offer advice on presents for her siblings: Jayne, 9, and James, 17. 

“She’s our consultant,” said Stone, who was shopping for her children, Cole, 14, and Madison, 12. 

27-YEAR TRADITION

Target had nine out of 14 checkout lanes open just after 9 a.m., with shoppers moving through steadily. 

The parking lots surrounding the mall were almost packed; shoppers lucked out if they managed to find a space close to the building.

Robert Campeau was making the trek to the further reaches of the lot outside Target with just one bag carrying a My First Disney Princess.

He has come from Cornwall, Ontario, to Plattsburgh for Black Friday for 27 years now.

“We stay at the Best Western,” he said.

DONATIONS DOWN

By the main mall entrance near Target, James Minckler kept busy opening doors for shoppers and ringing a Salvation Army bell inviting Red Kettle donations.

He was decked out winter camouflage gear.

“I got here at about quarter of 5,” he said. “It’s pretty cold here at 5 in the morning.”

Donations were coming slower this year over last, he noted as several people passed by the kettle without pausing.

Inside, on the concourse, Eleanor Murray manned a table for the North Country Center for Independence. Ombudsman coordinator in training, she set up at 6 a.m., volunteering on what was a paid day off for her.

She offered gift-wrapping, chances on a gift-card tree and other prizes and a deal on the agency’s “Adaptable Cooking” cookbook, $4 off the regular $10 price.

Enough traffic had come by that she was already thinking about next year as another opportunity to promote the program that advocates for folks with disabilities.

“Maybe I’ll start at midnight,” she said.

TOO LATE

Many mid-morning shoppers at Wal-Mart and Kmart in Malone were senior citizens doing their weekly errands, not Black Friday deal seekers.

And a lot of others were too late for bargains. 

“It’s all gone. Everything we wanted is already gone,” laughed Bruce Smith of Burke, who was shopping at Alix’s True Value in Chateaugay with his 7-year-old grandson, Travis Lamica.

They’d come about 11 a.m. for bumper cars and a remote-control car featured on sale, but were out of luck.

“But we got wrenches,” Travis said.

Nancy Alix said both the Chateaugay store and its sister store in the Plattsburgh Plaza, run by Joe Alix and Jay Alix, were seeing a steady flow of customers Friday.

“We had a big line of people waiting out here when we opened up, and that’s never happened before,” she said.

OFFERED RAIN CHECKS

Sale items, which had come in limited quantities, sold quickly.

Among those were a small, infrared heater and the bumper cars Travis and his grandfather wanted.

But Nancy was ordering more and had rain checks available for those who missed out on a coveted gift. 

And bargains are still available for those customers taking part in Small Business Saturday today, when people are encouraged to patronize locally owned small businesses.

“We’re all independently owned,” Alix said of the True Value stores, “so we’d like to see a lot of people come out and support us.”

Shoppers can check the Small Business Administration’s website at www.sba.gov/saturday to find participating small businesses.

POLKA-DOTTED LEGGINGS

At Target, Gordon and Cragle had snapped up the Elf on the Shelf with free $5 gift card.

And for every $50 spent on apparel, shoppers got a $10 gift card.

Gordon figured she’d have 75 percent of her shopping done by day’s end; Stone said she planned a trip to Albany for next weekend to hit the stores there.

But just then, they were heading to JCPenney.

“For polka-dotted leggings,” Stone said.

After that, they might stop by Wal-Mart.

“And then breakfast,” Gordon said.

Email Suzanne Moore: smoore@pressrepublican.com