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Local shoppers get out early to hunt down deals

Black Friday shoppers were busy searching for bargains at Jamestown retail stores. John M. Steiner The Sun

Shopping carts were in short supply in the early morning hours of Black Friday in Jamestown as people headed for the malls and stores in search of the bargains advertised over the past days.

"It's good fun but now I'm ready to go to bed," Laurie Fast of Jamestown said while resting in the concourse of the Buffalo Mall at 6 a.m. "No big purchases but little things. I must have bought 25 DVDs at least."

Fast said the shopping trip was a family tradition and an opportunity to spend time with nieces and nephews.

And like many she had a large part of her Christmas shopping done before the sun peaked over the horizon.

"I'm done with my shopping," said Shayna Blinsky of Jamestown. "Some already today and some last week."

Blinsky's mother, Angel Simpson, said she was only half done with her holiday purchases.

Some of the shoppers out early Friday weren't even looking for gifts.

"I was already finished," said Jane Niess of Jamestown. "This is for the fun of it and the good sales."

Niess said she makes the Black Friday shopping trip an event every year.

For the stores, the crowds were fulfilling their expectations.

"Things are going well," said Joni Dalke, manager at Kmart. "Except for the things we're already out of."

Dalke estimated the crowds in the Kmart store were somewhat smaller than last year but said the overall number of people in the mall was comparable or larger as more stores had opened early.

Top sellers at Kmart were the Black Friday standards of electronics and toys, Dalke said.

But toys and gadgets weren't the only items shoppers were searching for.

"It's been steady all day," said Brian Bertsch, manager of Tractor Supply Company in Jamestown. "We opened at 6 a.m. and had people waiting at the door. Everything we had in the ad is going. This is much better than last year."

And the crowds were sharing the wealth with those less fortunate.

"I've seen quite a few people out today and they're being quite generous," said Charlie Proborse, a volunteer ringing a bell for a Salvation Army kettle at the Park Plaza Mall. "It's been a great day. The people seem to be happy and enjoying the shopping and stopping by the Salvation Army kettle."

And even the stores that didn't open before dawn saw heavy customer traffic.

"So far it's been nuts," said Emily Wolff, department manager for White's Home and Decor. "We've been decorating things for Christmas and then undecorating them when people buy the items all day."

Though many sales didn't start until 6 a.m. or later in the morning, some shoppers had been at it much longer.

"I'm about half done with Christmas shopping," said Lynn Shipley of Jamestown who was shopping at TSC at about noon. "I got started at midnight at Walmart and have been at it since."

Her husband, Jordan Shipley, who was also shopping at TSC, said he hadn't been a part of the all-night marathon shopping excursion.

"I'm only here to pick up some feed," he said.

Local officials at Walmart refused to comment for this story, citing company policy.

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