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Shopping for serious bargains

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

Analysts have been making predictions for weeks about the seasonal holiday sales. Though many forecasted the gift giving season would be slow, it was hard to tell on black Friday.

Shoppers Jeri Rodden, Kelly Rodden and Lloyd Seitz had almost finished their day after-Thanksgiving shopping by 8:15 a.m. They started at 4:30 a.m. and hit the deals at places like Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us, Circuit City and Paddock Mall. Jeri, who is a Corridor resident, said they went for items on sale and will finish the rest of their shopping another day – and they don’t plan to spend more than last year.

Kohl’s customer Megan Gibson was strictly buying bargain items on black Friday, and she also planned to spend the same amount on gifts as last year. “If it wasn’t on sale, I wasn’t buying it today,” she said. Gibson purchased Little People toys at Kohl’s and had already picked up other sale items at Target, Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart.

Another Kohl’s shopper, Tony Lia, said he, too, was buying sale items and whatever else caught his eye. Lia was purchasing clothing and planned on spending the same amount on gifts as he did last year.

Mother and daughter shoppers Ida Breese and Janet Jones checked all the sale ads before they headed out to the stores. The twosome started their day at Dick’s Sporting Goods and planned to make stops at the Paddock Mall, Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble and Wal-Mart Supercenter. “A little bit of everything,” said Breese. Unlike some other shoppers, Jones said the economy had not affected her budget and she planned to spend the same amount on gifts as she in 2007.

However, sisters-in-law DeEtte Dover and Richelle Gilhauley plan to spend less money than they did last holiday season. “We cut way back,” Dover said. The women began at Wal-Mart Supercenter and shopped the sales.

To get themselves ready for the big day, they looked through the newspaper on Thanksgiving and mapped out their purchases. The shoppers organized the ads and placed sticky notes on the store flyers. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Gilhauey, of their third annual black Friday trip together.

After leaving Dick’s Sporting Goods they were off to the Paddock Mall and planned to finish all of their Christmas shopping by the end of the day.

Like Dover and Gilhauley, Friday shopper Tammy Fagan is planning to cutback on holiday shopping this year. To make her shopping day more efficient Fagan came prepared. She labeled envelopes with the name of the store on the outside and had her clipped coupons inside.

Retailers Positive

About Black Friday

Perry Moore, store manager for Dick’s Sporting Goods, said customers started lining up at the door at 4 a.m. The sports store was not slated to open until 5 a.m. but they decided to open the doors early because of the crowd. “We’re pleased with the turnout that we’ve had, so far,” he said.

Dick’s had early bird specials which included a $20 gift card with the purchase of $100 or more, a $359.99 Potomac 100 ES Kayak for $199.98, and regularly priced $249.99 Nuvi GPS Navigation system for $149.98.

Over at Kohl’s, the checkout lines ran all the way back to the toy department. Jason Cline, store manager, said he arrived at the store at approximately 2 a.m. and customers started lining up soon after. When the doors were unlocked at 4 a.m. more than 300 people came pouring in.

During the first part of the day Kohl’s customers could cash in on the advertised 300 early bird special items, which included a regularly priced $99.99 Kitchen Aid 14 piece cutlery set for $29.99 and a $249.99 GPS system for $79.99 after mail-in rebate.

For every $50 a customer spent in the store on black Friday, they received a $10 gift card to use for purchases at Kohl’s the following week. The hot selling items for the day were domestic goods, electronics, small kitchen appliances and jewelry. As of early Friday morning, Cline said the sales were better than he had hoped.

At Best Buy, store manager Steve Wilson said customers camped outside the store. “We had people outside Wednesday morning,” he said.

The store, which opened at 5 a.m. on Friday, brought in more than the minimum amount of each item that was listed in the sale ad. “We didn’t want to disappoint anybody,” Wilson said. By approximately 10 a.m., he estimated several thousand people had already passed through Best Buy’s doors.

For those who did not get to the electronics store during the after Thanksgiving Day sale, not to worry. Wilson said Best Buy would have a lot of great deals on items until Christmas.

Contact Amy Ryffel-Kragh at 854-3986 or e-mail akragh@newsrlsmc.com.