Area retailers reported an encouraging, if not hectic Black Friday, indicating a strong start to the official holiday shopping season.
At h.h. gregg, an electronics store in the Peoples Street shopping center, General Manager Patrick Mahoney said more than 250 people were waiting in line when the doors opened at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“When I first got here at about 5:30, there were only a few people out there, but as it got closer to 8, more and more started showing up,” Mahoney said Friday afternoon, as a steady stream of customers browsed the store’s merchandise. “My sales manager and I would go out there every 10 minutes or so and talk to the people in line to kind of lighten the mood and keep things from getting too frenzied.”
When the doors opened, Mahoney said the line stretched out in front of the neighboring Michaels crafts store.
This year was the longest Black Friday event yet for h.h. gregg, starting at 8 p.m. Thursday and lasting through 10 p.m. Friday.
Mahoney said the initial rush after doors opened slacked off by 2 a.m., but picked up again around 7 a.m. Friday.
“We had a skeleton crew overnight to give people enough time to rest before coming in again today,” he said. “I went home myself, but it was a little hard to sleep after getting jacked up with the big rush.”
For Mahoney, who has worked in retail for 24 years, nine of them with h.h. gregg, each Black Friday is different, and each offers new challenges.
“Each year you learn something and get better prepared for the next,” he said. “There are always little hitches, but things went pretty smoothly overall.”
The store handily met sales targets for this year, giving Mahoney a favorable outlook for the rest of the shopping season leading up to Christmas.
At Target on North Roan Street, the store’s Executive Team Leader for Human Resources Susan Harp said sales were booming.
“It looks like we’re going to beat last year,” Harp said, as registers beeping in the background played sweet music to her ears. “Things went very smoothly, and we didn’t have any major incidents.”
Target also opened at 8 p.m., and like at h.h. gregg, the lines of shoppers waiting to nab Black Friday deals were long, Harp said.
To help control the chaos, store employees handed out tickets for the larger, more popular items, and marked the path to those products on the floor in blue tape.
“It’s been a good year,” she said. “It’s still going on, but I think we’re going to get through it without any major incidents.”
By Friday afternoon, most of the more dedicated Black Friday observers had already come and gone, and were likely sleeping off a shopping-fueled adrenaline rush.
But parking lots were still full with more casual shoppers, who hoped to clean up the leftovers of the reduced merchandise.
“Really, I’m not too enthused to be out here,” Hilyard Hicks said as he headed toward the front doors of h.h. gregg with his grandson, Clayton. “This is my first time shopping on Black Friday, but I thought I’d see if there was anything worth buying.”
Fred and Teenia Widener said they joined the frenzy of late-night shopping last year, but weren’t in the mood this year.
“We slept in and tried to avoid the big rush,” Fred said. “We got up at about 8 a.m. today and headed out.”
Target was Bryan Denson and Amber Birdwell’s second stop Friday after Walmart, and likely their last.
“It’s crazy out here,” Birdwell said. “People are just in too big of a rush and they’re getting a little hateful.”
“I’m thinking it might be worth the extra $20 to just stay out of all this,” Denson said. “We can take our time, and it won’t be so crowded.”