Shoppers get an early start
Seated at the fountain in the Lebanon Valley Mall and taking a break after five hours of full-tilt shopping around Lebanon, Sam, Steph and Ashley Uhler were all smiling shortly after 8 a.m. Friday.
“I’ve been up since a quarter of 2,” Steph said. “It’s been a long day already.”
Starting at Kohl’s at 3 a.m. – “It was packed,” Sam said – the Uhlers worked their way to Sears, Walmart and Dunham’s before driving across town to the mall.
were they successful?
“Absolutely,” Steph said. “Everything we went for, we got.”
“We actually went out and got want we wanted,” Sam said, adding that Walmart “was a zoo.”
Daughter Ashley was seeking a laptop computer at Walmart, and she found one.
Steph said her husband, not normally a big shopper, rose to the occasion.
“This is the only day of the year I can get him to shop,” she said.
Having reached their goal, the Uhlers were ready to declare victory and head for home – and some rest.
“They’re both dying on me,” Steph said, with a big smile.
Mall marketing coordinator Victoria Blouch said the Uhlers’ story was not an unusual one on this Black Friday, which got off to a fine start at the mall. Boscov’s and f.y.e. opened at 4 a.m., with other stores following on their own schedules throughout the morning.
“We had a good rush this morning,” Blouch said after the initial surge had subsided. “The parking lot outside Boscov’s was full. it was refreshing to see. … At 2:45, when public safety came in, they said the line to get into Boscov’s stretched all the way to the Hobby Lobby doors, so there were at least a couple hundred people in line.”
Sandi Macfaline, manager of f.y.e., said her strategy in coordinating hours with Boscov’s was simple.
“We opened early, so the men could come here while the women are in Boscov’s,” she said.
Some of f.y.e.’s merchandise, notably DVDs of popular TV shows, was selling for 60 to 70 percent below normal.
Like many retail employees, Macfaline planned on working until 7 p.m., a 15-hour day. the store stayed open until 11 p.m.
“We set up Wednesday night and got in here at 4,” she said. “The last couple years we waited ’til the morning to set up, which meant we had to come in at 3.”
Ayla Penchard of North Lebanon Township and Miranda Weik of South Lebanon Township, members of the Cedar Crest High School Class of 2009, started their shopping day at Walmart about 5 a.m. before driving to the mall, where they checked out CDs at f.y.e.
“We went to Boscov’s, and then went to every single store (in the mall),” Weik said. “I wasn’t looking for anything specific. I got some jewelry for some friends.”
“We came to see if there are any good deals,” said Penchard, who was focused on electronics.
Dave Schneff and his son, Dalton, of Palmyra, visited Lowe’s and Walmart closer to home before reaching the mall. Dalton found what he wanted – a compound miter saw – at Lowe’s.
“We were looking at tools and electronics,” said Dave, who joins the Black Friday throngs every year.
he changed his game plan from a year ago.
“Last year, we did the Hershey Outlets at midnight,” Dave said. “That was awful. it was that full you couldn’t move.”
he planned to head to the Park City Mall in Lancaster later Friday or today to continue seeking bargains.
A quick check of Lebanon area retailers indicated that they had a successful Black Friday.
“This morning we had real good traffic,” Bob Pennypacker, general manager of the Sears store in the Lebanon Plaza, said early Friday afternoon. “We had door busters from 4 a.m. to noon. People were waiting at the doors to get in. People were in the mood to get out and take advantage of sales.”
Sears had a good day Thursday as well, when the store opened on Thanksgiving Day for the first time ever.
“(Thursday) was a successful day,” Pennypacker said. “We didn’t know what to expect for Thanksgiving. We were pleasantly surprised.”
Sears was open from 7 a.m. until noon on Thanksgiving, which “still gave our associates time to spend with their families,” Pennypacker said.
in addition to sales, Sears is offering customers new payment and layaway plans to increase options for customers, he said. Doors open at 7 a.m. today.
Kohl’s, also in the Lebanon Plaza, set the local pace for early openings, welcoming its first shoppers at 3 a.m. Friday.
“We had a few hundred customers this morning,” store manager Tom Sullivan said. “They were nice and organized on the sidewalk extending toward Michaels. with the precipitation, I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
A light rain was offset by higher-than-normal overnight temperatures, which held in the low 40s.
Sullivan said the most popular items shoppers were seeking included Keurig one-shot espresso machines, and, for the kids, Zuzu Pets and Barbie dolls.
Business throughout the morning “stayed fairly consistent,” Sullivan said. “We had every register open the whole time.”
Some nonprofit groups were out alerting shoppers about their programs.
Barbara McFarland, special events coordinator for the Lebanon chapter of the American Red Cross, and volunteers were asking shoppers to sign cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas as part of the Red Cross’s Holiday for Heroes effort. Pitney-Bowes covered the cost of mailing the cards.
Waldenbooks was offering a special voucher for shoppers that included a donation to the Red Cross.
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