ST. MARYS — By 10 a.m. Friday, retailers in St. Marys were seeing the second wave of shoppers, a mix of people finishing up their early morning forays for deals along with the more casual shoppers who didn’t consider themselves Black Friday shoppers so much as people who were out for a bargain without waiting.
Those who’d been out the night before, however, said it was “chaos.”
Eric Goodwin browsed Sears Friday morning, saying it was the first year he’d had off Black Friday, and had decided to brave crowds the night before and in the morning out of curiosity. He had yet to buy anything.
“I was just not really looking for anything. I was bored. I didn’t have to work and I wanted to compare prices, and I wanted to see why people wait in line two to three hours,” he said.
He’d gone to the Wal-Mart opening in Celina, he said.
“Their parking lot, the Bob Evans, and half the Sonic parking lots were full,” he said. “I went in and got out as fast as I could.”
At J.C. Penney, Kate Jutte said she had been in that Wal-Mart crowd—twice.
“We went out yesterday at 6 p.m., came back, had dessert, went back at 8 p.m., slept. Then I’m out this morning,” she said.
Mostly she said she was Christmas shopping, and she had a list of items she wanted to buy that she’d seen advertisements. She said she could tell the amateurs from the professionals. One man left 30 seconds before the headphones he was waiting for were opened. She got his pair.
In a way, she said the shopping had taken over the holiday. At Thanksgiving brunch the family started perusing advertisements. They left for Wal-Mart pretty much after their dinner.
“It kind of puts a damper on Thanksgiving,” she said. “Someone said there were more leftovers than in years past, and I feel like we ate fast.”
The nice thing about the stores opening on Thanksgiving, though, is that in years past when she had to work the day after, it might be her only chance to go.
Jutte said she had a shopping list for several members of the family, and she got almost everything she wanted. Shopping had another benefit too.
“I got out of doing dishes,” she said, adding that people who did dishes gave her their lists. “I’m not sure who got the better end of that deal.”
Cricket, Anita and Kayla Wuebker went out Friday morning for Black Friday deals at Lowe’s, Kohls and J.C. Penney.
“It’s the first time for all of us,” said Cricket Wuebker. “The stores have more in them (on Black Friday.)”
Kayla Wuebker convinced the family to come out for the event, saying she wanted to see what the fuss was about. They started at 6 a.m. Friday.
“We wanted to see the chaos,” Kayla Wuebker said.
Nicole Walker, of Chicago, was shopping in St. Marys after coming home for the holidays. She said the prices are already lower here, and the Black Friday deals added a little extra incentive.
“I came to get clothes for my kids for their Christmas presents,” she said.
When Patsy Schwendeman asked what convinced her to shop Black Friday, she had a short answer. “Bed pillows,” she said indicating a particularly fluffy bag. She’d looked through ads, and found what she wanted then came out for shopping. Her husband had gone to another store on a quest to buy drills.
She said she’d probably spend more this Christmas season, and she’d probably spend it all in the area.
“I really like to stay local,” she said.
If Schwendeman spends more this holiday season, she won’t be alone.
According to the Associated Press, the National Retail Federation expected retail sales to be up 4 percent to $602 billion during the last two months of the year. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession.
Analysts expect sales to be generated at the expense of profits, as retailers will likely have to do more discounting to get people into stores.
Kevin Knippen, manager at the local J.C. Penney, said that the earlier opening time may have contributed to the way the store had more dispersed crowds. He said he thought it had been a bigger Black Friday, people-wise, but that people had come more spaced out.
That didn’t mean they didn’t have a line at opening, however.
“People lined up at both entrances,” he said. While the small electronics were a hit, what he didn’t expect was a run on discount dinnerware. The store had actually run out.
It’s a different kind of crowd for local retailers who aren’t affiliated with chains that run big advertisements and commercials with big openings.
Local store Simply Good Things opened from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, a strategy owner Jennifer Garrett said was to catch people when they’d finished at national retailers. They offered cookies, coffee and giveaways, marking down furniture and putting the word out to their local loyal customers with social media.
“It’s our first Black Friday. I’m usually the crazy loon out shopping,” Garrett joked. Having done Black Friday gave her insight on what times she wanted to be open.
“By 2 (p.m.) everyone’s done,” she said.