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30n7shopping Rodney and Keri Galvan  of Morenci, Mich., started shopping at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and were still at it at 9 a.m. Friday. The couple got a jump on their holiday shopping by starting on Thanksgiving Day.
Rodney and Keri Galvan of Morenci, Mich., started shopping at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and were still at it at 9 a.m. Friday. The couple got a jump on their holiday shopping by starting on Thanksgiving Day.
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Published: Saturday, 11/30/2013 - Updated: 8 months ago

Area Black Friday crowds steady, not overwhelming

Die-hard deal seekers hit retailers at midnight or earlier

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Earlier this week, alarm was being expressed by some retailers and consumers at the rush by stores to push their Black Friday openings back to 8 p.m. or earlier on Thursday.

But while so-called “Thanksgiving creep” forced some employees to give up their Thanksgiving holidays and some consumers to adjust their shopping habits, Rodney and Keri Galvan of Morenci, Mich., decided to take the hand they were dealt and shop accordingly.

When the traditional Black Friday openings occurred at 6 a.m. Friday morning, the couple already were into their 16th hour of power shopping the Toledo area, having hit eight stores starting at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

“The first store we went to was Walmart. We got everything that we wanted at Walmart, left there, went to … hey, where did we go?” Mr. Galvan asked his wife.

It was 9 a.m. Friday and the couple were in the parking lot of Target on Monroe Street, loading more items into an SUV jam-packed with toys, clothes, and a 50-inch LED TV.

“I don’t know,” Mrs. Galvan said while stopping to think. “We’ve been everywhere.”

After a busy start as stores opened at 8 p.m. Thursday and at midnight, Franklin Park seemed to see less business Friday, with crowds late in the morning seeming less congested than in past years. After a busy start as stores opened at 8 p.m. Thursday and at midnight, Franklin Park seemed to see less business Friday, with crowds late in the morning seeming less congested than in past years.
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While dozens of stores opened on Thanksgiving, drawing crowds to the malls and other area retail centers, a second wave of shoppers took to the stores Friday in search of bargains.

In Maumee, the Appliance Center — which chose to stay closed on Thursday — happily greeted 150 people Friday waiting outside its doors for its 6 a.m. opening.

“We were concerned a little bit about not opening early, but our employees were glad we didn’t open on Thanksgiving,” store manager Jim Grzywinski said. “And we are really busy today.”

Indicating that store management made the right call by not opening Thursday, “We had numerous people saying they were here at our store specifically because we weren’t open on Thursday. It was nice to hear those comments,” Mr. Grzywinski said.

It also was nice to get steady sales, he added. “We sold a lot of electronics and furniture. The furniture was surprising,” Mr. Grzywinski said.

With so many stores opening Thursday, the customer traffic on Friday was lessened somewhat, with retailers reporting strong, steady sales but not the traditional crush when the doors opened.

John Kowalski, manager of The Andersons General Store on Talmadge Road, said there were very few people waiting in line to get into the store when it opened at 7 a.m.

Most of the crowd stayed in their cars to keep warm instead, he added.

“Part of it was we had a [20 percent coupon for total purchases] deal whereby you can make your own deal,” Mr. Kowalski said. “So we didn’t have a lot of [doorbuster] bargains.”

By 10 a.m., however, the store was bustling, with more customers streaming into the store looking to use the 20 percent coupon before its 11 a.m. expiration.

The Shops at Fallen Timbers appeared less crowded than past years.

“It was really strong from 8 p.m. [Thursday] to 2 a.m. [Friday], but it died down in the early morning. Between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m., there was a lull,” said Heidi Yannok, Fallen Timbers' marketing manager.

At Levis Commons in Perrysburg, a steady stream of shoppers sought bargains through the day Friday, but the shopping center’s manager, Charlene Scott, said the center usually does not get big crowds on Black Friday.

“We did open early, but we don’t have any of the ‘big boxes’. Traditionally, people go to them first and then later in the day they visit our stores,” she said.

Casey Pogan, a spokesman for Levis Commons, said, “The biggest sales day for Levis Commons is not usually Black Friday, but the Saturday before Christmas Day.”

Even Franklin Park experienced a slight lull. Mall officials said the center was busy when 40 stores opened at 8 p.m. Thursday, became more crowded when 50 more stores opened at midnight, and stayed busy at 5 a.m. when the rest of the mall opened.

But on Friday morning, the center didn’t seem as congested as it has been on past Black Fridays.

“It’s kind of sparse,” said Missy Sherer of Findlay, one of three Sherer family members shopping at Franklin Park at about 9:30 a.m.

Stephanie Harmon, owner of Bumble Olive Oil Company at the Franklin Park Mall. The shop opened at five a.m., allowing all employees to have Thanksgiving Day off from work. Stephanie Harmon, owner of Bumble Olive Oil Company at the Franklin Park Mall. The shop opened at five a.m., allowing all employees to have Thanksgiving Day off from work.
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“We haven’t really had any lines at all,” agreed her mother-in-law, Tina Sherer of Bradner, Ohio.

Bumble Olive Oil Co. and Pandora jewelry store were two mall retailers that opened at 5 a.m., but their owners were second-guessing themselves.

“This went really well. We look at historical data and it was the same. Actually we’re doing better — if you do it hour versus hour, this year has been busier,” said Stephanie Harmon, who owns Bumble Olive Oil with her husband, Josh.

But in hindsight, a midnight opening might have been better. “I can tell you I’ve talked to other people, because we’re all very friendly around here, and everyone agreed — You can’t not open at midnight,” Mrs. Harmon said. “I talked to Teavana and they agreed, there’s just this core group of people and they come out for the experience or whatever it is” at midnight, she added.

“I'm not saying I agree with the 8 o’clock [p.m.] start. ... But there is something kind of fun at being in a mall at 2 in the morning. I can’t explain it, but it is fun,” she said.

Phil Kajca, owner of the Pandora jewelry store and J. Foster Jewelers at Franklin Park, said that even though his Pandora store had matched its total Black Friday sales from a year ago by 10 a.m. Friday, a midnight opening might have been even more successful.

“Probably we should have opened at midnight, you know, especially our Pandora store because of its lower price point. With diamonds, not so much. It’s a planned purchase.”

“But I think a lot of people who start shopping that early are looking for a lower price point, and I had 90 people in line at my Pandora store when we opened at 5 a.m.,” he said.

Shelly Peer of Sylvania applauded the stores that didn’t open until Friday morning.

“It just irritated me so much that people were out last night and that so many employees had to work on Thanksgiving,” Ms. Peer said while heading into the mall at 10 a.m.

“I think everybody should be able to be home with their families on the holiday. It makes me sad what’s happened.”

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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