In a twist of irony, I find myself covering Black Friday for Patch. I never venture out on the day after Thanksgiving. But, given all the hype about stores opening earlier than ever, I’m curious to see what motivates people to shop on the craziest day of the year.
6:50 a.m. Walt Whitman Mall
I expect to see lots of crowds and a packed parking lot. But to my surprise, parking is a breeze as I head into the mall. Macy’s, Guess, and Delia’s were the only three stores to open at midnight, and I’m curious to talk to store personnel to see what the traffic was like.
At Macy’s I find Lucia behind the make-up counter, who says it was “pretty wild” at midnight, with a mad rush toward handbags and shoes. Customers were actually running down the aisles to take advantage of the deal on Rampage boots for $19.99. Seven hours later, there’s still a huge stack of boots left and plenty of time before the early morning special ends at 11:00.
I ask Lucia what she thinks of the early opening. Turns out she volunteered for the midnight gig, and is planning to hit the stores herself once her shift ends at 9:30. But she has an employee’s take on Black Friday. “It’s a hard day,” she says. “I try to be compassionate toward people who work then.”
Over at Delia’s, the staff is friendly and eager to help my fourteen-year-old daughter who has happily come along. They tell me that it was pretty slow at midnight, but by now traffic is starting to pick up. Tanisha, who lives in East Northport, is happy to point out the sales, including a three-day, $15.00 sale on graphic tees and hoodies (buy two). Jeans – buy one, get one free – are also being snapped up.
We run into Stephanie Mazeau, and Leigh Eisenhuth from John Glenn High School in Elwood who are on line with their purchases. Both plan to stay until noon or so, and Stephanie says she may also head to another mall later. I’m impressed by their stamina, and think longingly of the Thanksgiving leftovers at home.
We press on to the Apple store, where again, I’m surprised that the traffic is relatively light. Dare Ryan, a helpful clerk tells me that iPads (no surprise) are the must-have item, with prices lowered from $499 to $458 for 16 gigabytes, wi-fi only.
I ask Dare, whose shift ends at 2:00, if he plans on doing any shopping today. He smiles and shakes his head. “I’m going to straight to bed.” I nod approvingly.
8:45 a.m. Best Buy
After re-fueling at Starbucks, we head over to the Best Buy next door. My good mood is momentarily snuffed out by some guy who has decided to clean his car in the parking lot by literally hurling garbage out the door at my feet. Stunned, I can only muster up a “Hey, that’s not nice!” before he drives off.
Inside, I head for TVs where Andrew tells me that they have already sold out of their Door Buster specials – a $200 42” TV and a 24” TV for $79.00. Those specials were only available via tickets which were handed out to the hordes who lined up at midnight. However I can still get a great deal on a Samsung 55” LED TV, which normally goes for $1399. Today it’s on sale for $1000. For two grand I can get a 59” Samsung D8000 which comes with two pairs of 3D glasses and a Blu-Ray player. I say thanks but no thanks, but note that the gentleman in line behind me seems very interested in the $1000 special. I mentally wish Andrew good luck and head back out the door.
9:50 a.m. Main Street, Northport
The parking meters are all wrapped and parking is easy as I make my way into . Denise at the front counter tells me the store opened at its usual 9:00 a.m. and will be open until 8:00. So far she’s seen a few more people than usual.
I pry my daughter away from the bangles and nail polish in the last aisle and head over to where several people are already shopping. There, owner Ruth Koroghlian shows us some lovely handmade stockings and ornaments. They’re also having a special on Vera Bradley bags – 25 percent off this weekend.
At , I ask Pam Holland what toy item is the hottest this season. “The Flying Shark,” she says. It’s five feet long and is remote controlled. “Moves like a real shark!” the box proclaims. I immediately have visions of it flying off into trees or, depending on its height, being mistaken for a UFO.
“No,” she says. “You fly it around the house.” The price is $42.99 and, as always, Einstein’s Attic will giftwrap it.
I must admit I’m intrigued. I wonder if it would make a good gift for my nephew, and, more importantly, if he’d let me try the remote.
Now it’s my daughter’s turn to pry me out of the store.