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Area residents line up early for store deals

Keith Norman / The Sun Jim Matthiesen, owner of the Sears store, helps a customer at about 5:30 a.m. Friday. Sears and some other stores within the Buffalo Mall opened at 5 a.m.1 / 2
Keith Norman / The Sun Karla Huether and Tiffany Siedschlag of LaMoure stand in line for the Nintendo DS at Walmart Friday morning at 5:30. In the foreground is Kristin Hoff and Mandy Gahner of Jamestown. Hoff had brought her own lawn chair and had been waiting in line since 2:30 a.m.2 / 2

The Christmas shopping season got off to a robust start early Friday in Jamestown. Shoppers poured into stores when doors opened at 4, 5 or 6 a.m., or spent the night in stores that stayed open all night, all in the pursuit of the best shopping bargains.

"I've been sitting here since 2:30 a.m." said Kristin Hoff of Jamestown, who was at the head of the line for the Nintendo DS at Walmart at 5:30 a.m. "I hope my daughter doesn't read this, it won't be much of a surprise for Christmas."

Others in the line had been there longer but were further back.

"We've had no sleep," said Karla Huether of LaMoure. "An hour drive and we got here at 1 a.m. Now we're third and fourth in line because Tiffany didn't hover."

Tiffany Siedschlag, also of LaMoure, had traveled to Jamestown with Huether to spend a day shopping for deals that had been in the planning stages for months.

"We had our first planning meetings for black Friday three or four months ago," said John Schaffer, Walmart manager. "It is too early to tell how the day will go but we are the most organized we've ever been."

Other stores also reported heavy shopper traffic.

"It's been very busy," said Darren Corcoran, assistant manager at Kmart. "We're very pleased with the turnout."

Corcoran said the primary shopper emphasis has been on toys and electronics.

An expert in Christmas shopping agreed.

"We've had lots of requests for 4-wheelers and Nintendo," said Santa Claus at the Buffalo Mall. "But the really big thing this year seems to be the iPods. A lot of older children have been requesting them."

Santa Claus, Clifford Calhein in real life, characterized the Buffalo Mall as busy.

The busy day seemed to extend throughout Jamestown.

"We opened at 4 a.m. and we had people there right off the bat," said Mary Engels, manager of J.C. Penney. "We had about 700 free snow globes for the early bird shoppers and they were gone by 7:15 a.m."

Engels said she is anticipating a Christmas season at least as good as last year.

"We're prepared for a great year," she said. "We have good prices and good values. We expect the shoppers to be practical and look for value for their dollar."

The busy shopping day extended to the downtown Jamestown area as well.

"It's been an awesome day," said Rad Nicholson, manager of White Drug in the Park Plaza Mall. "We're very pleased, it seems better than last year and we're looking for an awesome Christmas season."

But it was not a good day to be a black Friday rookie.

"It's been very busy," said Amelia Van-Niekirk, store associate at Radio Shack. "Sometimes I feel like I'm going to get run over. But it is my first Christmas season in retail."

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at