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Back in Black: Shoppers flock to Cape stores

By Staff | Nov 26, 2011

Scores of shoppers took advantage of the early specials that began at midnight for the busiest holiday shopping day of the year – “Black Friday.”

Kohl’s Manager Sabrina Howerton said for the first time in Kohl’s history they opened the stores for 24 hours the Friday after Thanksgiving, the “official” start of the holiday shopping season.

Shoppers began lining the sidewalk out to Pine Island Road at about 9:45 Thursday night waiting for the doors to open at midnight for Black Friday specials.

“This morning we had some very enthusiastic people,” she said about the wee-hour shoppers.

Howerton said last year they opened at 3 a.m. for their Black Friday sales, but the company wanted to provide more convenience for their customers this holiday season. She said she heard from a lot of her customers that they liked the midnight opening because they did not have to go to bed before heading out to do their shopping.

“They ended their day with shopping instead of beginning it,” Howerton said.

The hot items this year at Kohl’s included media tablets, cookware, appliances, jewelry, toys and bedding. She said the Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony collections also are doing really well this year.

Although a few things sold out Friday, Howerton said kiosks were set up in the store so shoppers could order items from their website. She said they could either have it shipped to their home or the recipient of the gift.

“They don’t have to pay for postage or mailing it,” Howerton said about the free shipping.

Between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., she said the crowd began to slow down a little bit before it became steady again.

Since the store was open for 24 hours, Howerton said her employees had an opportunity to work whatever shift they wanted.

Kohl’s, as a company, hired between 18-20 percent more employees for the holiday season this year, which amounted to about 45,000 employees.

Although many stores opened their doors at midnight to offer people a head start for their holiday shopping, not everyone took advantage of the very early hours.

Donna Meuse said she set her alarm clock for midnight, so she could take advantage of the sales, but when she got up and turned on the news and saw the very long lines she decided to go back to bed.

“I did get up at 12 and then went back to sleep,” she said, smiling.

Meuse finally got her shopping under way about 8 Friday morning. She said she likes to begin her shopping on Black Friday because all the bargains are this weekend.

“The prices never catch up later on,” Meuse said.

One year she said she hit the stores at 4 a.m.

“The lines start for days and the products are gone,” Meuse said, which is why she has not attempted that again. Her normal Black Friday shopping hours are between 6 and 8 a.m.

Another shopper who took advantage of sales on Friday was Diane Murnane. She said she frequently shops on Black Friday so she can begin her Christmas shopping, along with taking advantage of sales for herself.

The good sale items, which Murnane said were very similar to last year’s prices, is what brings her out on the craziest shopping day of the year.

Kohl’s was her first stop Black Friday before heading to the mall in Fort Myers. Murnane said she never finishes all of her Christmas shopping on Black Friday.

“I’m out on Christmas Eve doing last-minute shopping,” she said, adding that Black Friday acts as the day that kicks off the rest of the holiday season.

Crystal’s Hallmark owner Nancy Kreller said business was also good for them due to the steady traffic that continuously walked through their store beginning at 8 am. Friday.

She said Black Friday is one of their busiest days of the year, with the week before Christmas as their second.

Although she could not specify how the traffic and sales compared to last year, Kreller said she has definitely seen an increase.

There were 15 different sales taking place on Black Friday at Crystal’s Hallmark, with many of them continuing on through the weekend.

Kreller said Vera Bradley bags and luggage are a huge seller for them because the age span that purchases them from 5 years to 90 years old.

“It’s fun getting ready for it,” she said about Black Friday.

Kreller said the Hallmark store gets their customers excited about Christmas during the holiday season.

According to the National Retail Federation up to 152 million people plan to shop during the Black Friday weekend this year, which is more than the 138 million estimated to shop last year.

For many retailers, sales featuring bargain prices continue though the weekend.

And for independent retailers, today is “Small Business Saturday” with local stores offering their own best sellers at holiday prices.