Black Friday brings rush of local customers




It was 2:50 a.m. Friday, and Garden City's shopping district was thrumming with activity. Lines of people waited outside the local Sears and JCPenney. Down the road, cars wrapped around Burger King into the road leading into the parking lot.

Welcome to another Black Friday.

Dustyn Smith and his wife, Dorsey, drove 90 minutes from Tribune to get in on the sales. They arrived at the JCPenney on Kansas Avenue at 2:30 a.m. to be the first in line, though this wasn't their first stop. The Smiths were present for the 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night sale at Walmart, and were displeased by what they saw.

"A box of towels was opened about 20 minutes early," Dorsey Smith said. "There were towels flying in the air. One lady fell in the box."

Dorsey Smith said that while she was there, Walmart had to lock the doors because they were at capacity. There were several accounts of Walmart shoppers having to park in the Home Depot parking lot across the street because of the overflow crowd.

According to the police, there were a few sales-induced incidents.

"We received a call at Target involving a juvenile who was being unruly in line. Officers assisted in removing him from the property per the store's request," Garden City police Sgt. Michael Reagle said. "We were called to do a walk through of the Walmart property due to prior instances, but we were not called when they actually occurred. We did not take any actual police reports for any Black Friday shopping incidents."

While Dustyn Smith may not enjoy the early holiday rush, he did have some positive words for the people who make a habit out of waiting in the cold for early deals.

"It's insane," Dustyn Smith said. "I commend them for sticking with it, though."

This was the first night of waiting out for Black Friday sales for the Smiths, and according to Dorsey, it will likely be the last.

"It kind of takes away from Thanksgiving," Dorsey Smith said. "I don't like it."

Later in the morning, the big box stores were still bustling with shoppers. While managers at Target, JCPenney, Walmart and Sears declined comment, they were clearly having busy sales days.

A few doors down from Sears and JCPenney, several other businesses in Garden City Plaza were busy.

Hibbet Sports "Head Coach" Marc Martinez said he opened the store 30 minutes early to accommodate the people waiting outside. He said that he was happy Target and Walmart had their big sales the previous evening because it opened up those shoppers to other stores earlier in the day. He said that Black Friday is great for his store and also the community.

"Business has been really good. It's been a great day so far," Martinez said. "Black Friday brings in the rural areas, so it's great for Garden City."

Over at Rue 21, store manager Becky Lopez was happy about the steady business, but stated that it was a little bit down from last year. She likes that Black Friday gives shoppers an opportunity to get some good deals, but she doesn't like the trend of stores opening earlier and earlier.

"Black Friday is a positive thing," Lopez said. "But the early open is a bit much."

At Maurices, an associate responded that they were "very, very busy," before getting back to the long line of customers in front of her. An associate at Radio Shack echoed the sentiment, stating that they had been swamped in the morning, before ducking into the back for more supplies.

Not every business had a busy sales day on Black Friday. Some specialty stores and local stores find the shopping holiday to be little different than other business days.

A few doors down from Sears, Riddle's Jewelry was quiet. Store Manager Kyle Nodarse said that he hadn't been as busy as he would like, but that it would likely pick up once the big box door-busters end. He said that jewelry is not as affected by the Black Friday buzz, but he does see a spike in interest around the holidays. Nodarse said he likes the economic boost and sense of community Black Friday early shoppers bring.

"Black Friday really helps the local economy," Nodarse said. "It also builds a sense of camaraderie for the people that wait outside."

Away from the busy Garden City Plaza, things were quieter on Main Street.

The Corner on Main looked to be the busiest of the stores in the area. Employee Barbara Rains said that they had no special deals besides some food samples, but that they had remained steady all morning.

Shannen Phlieger, owner of Shannen's Electronics, said that it's difficult for local businesses to keep up with the national chains, which he said often sell at a low margin or loss to get people in the store.

"It's hard for us to compete," Phlieger said.

The Family Bookhouse takes Black Friday in stride. Owner Joan Lobmeyer said that she doesn't mind things being slower, and that the peaceful atmosphere is itself a perk for the people who want to shop there. For Lobmeyer, the holiday is less about sales and more about faith. Pointing to her Nativity scene displayed in the front window, she said she has a single goal.

"All I want is for people to remember what Christmas is all about," Lobmeyer said.

Another local store separated from the Black Friday buzz was Finley's Men's Wear. Owner Bob Finley said that he treats Black Friday no different than any other day, and that his big sales revolve around end-of-season closeouts, which wouldn't be taking place until after the holidays.

"It's just another day for us," Finley said. "But the holidays look pretty good. We just take it one day at a time."

Safe holiday shopping tips

Here are some tips to keep in mind during this holiday season:

• Don’t leave purses or other valuable items unattended in shopping carts.

• Don’t carry large sums of cash that can be lost or stolen.

• Ensure your vehicle is locked and place packages or other valuables in the trunk of your car if you are going to continue shopping.

• Park in well-lit areas at night.

• Lock all doors and windows to your home before you leave.

• Use timers to turn on/off lights when you are going to be away from home at night.

• Do not openly display packages where they can be seen from outside your home.

• Be vigilant to your surroundings and have your keys ready when you get to your car or home.

• When shopping online, only use reputable websites.

• Report any suspicious activity you see.

Source: The Garden City Police Department

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