Crowds turn out for Black Friday

Published 8:43 pm Friday, November 29, 2013

Patty Ralston, top, changes sale signs at Belk on Shotwell Street -- Ashley Johnson

Patty Ralston, top, changes sale signs at Belk on Shotwell Street — Ashley Johnson

Millions of American consumers hit the stores late Thursday night and early into Black Friday to plunder through bins of the best deals according to the National Retail Federation.
In Bainbridge, consumers lined up for doorbuster sales and Black Friday opportunities at Walmart, Belk and also the local shops downtown to get their shopping fix after Thanksgiving dinner.
Belk employees said they easily saw the biggest crowds ever this year.
Patty Ralston works on the floor on the operation team, putting out sale signs and markups. Ralston said the store was more crowded than she had ever seen it.
“It was wall-to-wall, elbow-to-elbow and it took you five minutes to walk from the front of the store to the back,” Ralston said, but mentioned she didn’t mind because the atmosphere was fun.
Belk store manager Theresa Hall similarly said something about this year surprised her about the atmosphere.
“Everyone was so polite,” Hall said of the customers. Black Friday department store sales can sometimes turn violent as depicted in the news each year when consumers get in fights.
“We had the nicest people last night,” Hall said. “They were nice to each other, very polite and no one was upset. They didn’t mind standing in line and waiting. It was the most pleasant crowd.”
Consumers who were still taking advantage of deals Friday afternoon said they came for the boot sale and had come multiple times.
“We were here last night and we are back again this morning,” Belk customer Rebecca Wolfe said, who also made stops in Tallahassee, Fla.
Hall said their $19.99 is what attracted most customers.
Local stores downtown did not miss a beat for Black Friday sales in their stores either.
Local gift store Reeves, run by Tom Reeves was busy for the duration of the day with sales and crowds.
“It’s been a crazy day from the time we opened the store,” Reeves owner Gloria Reeves said. “We opened at 10 a.m. We didn’t open any earlier, we opened at the same time. We’ve had folks from out of town that we haven’t seen in years shopping with us. It’s a Christmas-sized flow.”
The store additionally hopes to attract crowds on Shop Small Saturday — a day designed to promote small and local businesses.
“Shop small Saturday is also a busy day,” Reeves said. “We’re very excited. Shop local and keep that money inside the city. We’ve got specials going on and we have extra folks in the store helping. We’re in the Christmas spirit.”

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