By AMANDA GRAY
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Though the house still smells like turkey, dressing and all the trimmings, many shoppers will don hats, gloves and grab sale ads as they dream of scoring the big Christmas gift deal — before turkey day is even over.
The Friday after Thanksgiving, known as “Black Friday” to many shoppers and store owners, has become an annual holiday in its own right as shoppers wait in long lines and wade through packed stores for deals on movies, electronics, clothes and other items many buy as gifts for Christmas. Many locally owned and chain stores in the area will open at midnight, or even earlier into actual Thanksgiving Day, in hopes of bringing in shoppers ready to spend money.
Target’s store preparations began about a month ago with the hiring of seasonal staff. Now that displays are constructed and products are unpacked, staff members are looking forward to the store’s “guests” visiting after they celebrate Thanksgiving.
“I love the fun, the guests coming in,” Target manager Shirley Voglereed. “It’s the best day of the year!”
Some places aren’t waiting until midnight to get a start on shopping. Big stores like Toys-R-Us and Wal-mart will open at 8 p.m. tonight, and Target stores open at 9 p.m. nationwide tonight, according to their sale ad and website. The only concern for Goshen’s Target’s staff is weather — Voglereed said the managers hope the weather holds out for good shopping.
“We don’t know (how many will be here late Thursday and Friday morning), but the average crowd has been around 2,500 people,” Voglereed said.
Lines begin early, but the majority of shoppers begin lining up around four hours before doors open, she said. The biggest items this year, as in the past, will be electronics and toys.
While many would think tensions and attitudes would be high on Black Friday, Voglereed said it’s the opposite.
“I love the guests we have in store,” she said. “They are just fantastic to be around. Everyone’s so excited and nice —our guests are wonderful.”
Other area locations are celebrating all things shopping with Black Friday. Concord Mall will open its doors at 11 p.m. tonight to start their All Night Shopping Party, according to Marketing Director Deb Alwine.
The party is in commemoration of the mall’s 40th anniversary, and will feature the lighting of the Christmas tree, prizes and store deals. After the 11:30 p.m. unveiling of the 2013 Center Court plans, 300 lucky (and early) shoppers will receive shopping bags filled with coupons, as well as 10 chances at hourly gift card raffles. More information is available at www.shopconcordmall.com.
“We’re not sure what’s going to happen, because this is the first time we’re doing it, but we’re going to have a ball,” Alwine said. “This is the place to be (on Black Friday) — we want people to come rediscover Concord Mall, because we’re doing things differently.”
Local small businesses are placing an emphasis on Small Business Saturday, the counterpart to Black Friday. The day encourages shoppers to buy from local small businesses for their holiday gifts, instead of buying from large corporations.
Scott Woldruff, owner of Woldruff’s Footwear and Apparel in downtown Goshen, said his store is not having a direct Black Friday sale, but customers can participate in “Shop Small” if they carry American Express.
The credit card company will give enrolled members a one-time $25 credit if they spend $25 or more in a small business Saturday, according to their website. More information is available at www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/.
“For the shopper, small businesses try to carry better quality products, give more personal service and offer free gift wrapping, things they oftentimes don’t offer at big stores,” Woldruff said.
Woldruff said customers at small businesses, including his, should feel good about spending their money in the community.
“Their money is spent locally,” he said. “It’s spent back into the community. At big stores, the money may help with paying staff, but it also goes to the corporation out of state.”
Woldruff said his holiday present sales have already begun; from Vera Bradley bags and accessories to SmartWool socks and gift certificates, people have begun checking gifts off of their lists.
However, waiting in line (or even wearing shoes) may not be necessary to get many of the deals Black Friday shoppers will be gunning for. Cyber Monday, the digital counterpart to the Black Friday sales, will be Nov. 26, though many sales are starting even earlier — some before Black Friday itself.
Mike Gingerich, who serves as the head of Social Applications division at Goshen’s Digital Hill Multimedia, said stores are blurring timelines when it comes to online sales.
“We’re seeing this timeline before Thanksgiving blur,” Gingerich said Wednesday. “It’s one of the unique things about the time, where you’re seeing businesses target the whole time period, not just Cyber Monday.”
For the week leading up to Thanksgiving, as well as into Black Friday through the weekend, Best Buy and Amazon have had daily deals that only last for so many units or so many hours, depending on the retailer. These reflect changes Gingerich said he sees in the market place — changes that also include the increase of phones and tablets as purchasing tools.
“Online shopping is growing by leaps and bounds,” Gingerich said. “We’re seeing an increase of mobile and tablet use to purchase, too.”
Kohl’s put some of their Black Friday deals on their website beginning Wednesday, and many stores are offering free shipping, large discounts and other incentives to buy online. A simple Google search of “Black Friday” will bring up website after website geared toward getting shoppers the best deals in-store and online, aggregating the ads and deals available in simple, readable formats.
Stores are also turning to Facebook and Twitter when it comes to drawing in shoppers, Gingerich said.
“There’s a big consideration for online retailers to talk to customers through social channels,” Gingerich said.
Some businesses will even give Facebook friends and Twitter followers special promotions for using the social networks. In a struggling economic climate, businesses are doing all they can to attract shoppers, he said.
“We’re seeing a lot more tech-savvy users,” Gingerich said. “You’re seeing the sales on Cyber Monday and Black Friday continuing to grow, and competition is fierce because people will go and compare prices online. It becomes a volume game because margins are so low.”