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Shoppers rush local stores

Holiday shoppers took to the Jamestown retail stores to take advantage of Black Friday specials. John M. Steiner The Sun

Black Friday marked the opening of the Christmas shopping season, leaving local retailers satisfied and some shoppers exhausted.

"I've never seen all the stores so busy, to be honest," said Elizabeth Martin, 12, of Jamestown, who was at the Buffalo Mall Friday afternoon.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally the day when retailers go from being "in the red" to being "in the black."

Traffic at the mall was still going strong in the late afternoon Friday, but many shoppers seemed subdued and a little tired. Some had been up since before the 5 a.m. mall opening time, and others had gone shopping Thursday night.

"We were in Fargo, and it was so horrible," said Tabitha Hildebrandt of Fingal, N.D., who paused to rest during her shopping expedition Friday afternoon at the Buffalo Mall.

Hildebrandt was relieved to be back in Jamestown after heading to Fargo late Thursday night to catch some sales.

She and boyfriend Brian Steidl, also of Fingal, went to Walmart and then went out to eat, but found the lines just to get into Target were far too long. Even at Walmart, the things they wanted were gone before they arrived, and the lines reached all around the interior of the store, Hildebrandt said.

"We got some new Tupperware and went home. That was it," Hildebrandt said.

She has no intention of braving Fargo on Black Friday again.

"Never doing it again," Steidl echoed.

Customers were quite a bit calmer in Jamestown, and though there were crowds in several locations, people reportedly behaved very well.

"We had a great crowd," said Joni Dalke, store manager at Kmart. "They were friendly, they were gracious, no pushing, no shoving -- just a great crowd."

When Kmart opened at 5 a.m., Dalke thanked the customers. None of them made a move toward the store until an employee told them they could.

Electronics, toys, shoes and apparel were the hot sellers at Kmart, and people were buying for themselves as well as for other people. Layaway seemed a popular option for many.

"It's been awesome," said Amy Rowell, co-manager at Glik's in the Buffalo Mall.

There were a few people waiting outside her store before it opened at 5 a.m., and Glik's had steady traffic throughout the day. Rowell reported shoppers there seemed happy and courteous.

"Everybody's been really awesome today," Rowell said.

Sweatshirts, sweaters and jeans were selling the best, along with hats that resembled animals.

"It's been a very good day," said Paula Lausch, owner-manager of The Mustard Seed in the Buffalo Mall.

Though people weren't waiting outside the store at 5 a.m. when it opened, they did start stopping by soon afterward, and many of them purchased gift items.

Some people ended up at the mall despite Black Friday rather than because of it.

"We had to have milk," explained Joyce Gross of Jamestown, who decided to stop by at the mall while running other errands. "As far as coming out in the morning? No, not gonna happen."

Some shoppers avoided the mall and went straight to other local stores in the morning. Gun & Reel Sports opened its doors at 9 a.m. and had steady traffic starting at about 9:30 a.m., reported co-owner Gary Docktor.

Clothing, shoes and jackets seemed to be the hot sellers at his store, and it was busier this year than last year.

At Mac's, there was a sale on tools from its 8 a.m. opening until 10 a.m., and there were 30 or 40 people waiting at the door, said Jake Sinclair, a supervisor there.

"They were all polite. Usually all of our customers are pretty good about everything," Sinclair said.

People seemed especially interested in wrench sets and miscellaneous tools, both for themselves and for gifts.

"Everybody here was pretty fantastic compared to what my family dealt with last night at another store," said Brian Bertsch, store manager at Tractor Supply Co. "The demeanor of everybody was great here. I have absolutely zero complaints."

Bertsch said TSC had its best year ever for Black Friday, starting with the crowd of 30 people who were already waiting when the doors opened at 6 a.m.

Home of Economy, which opened at 8 a.m., had about 400 customers, reported Robert Hallberg, store manager -- almost twice as many as usual.

Sales of clothing, toys, dog food and feed were all very strong, and people seemed more interested in purchasing gifts for others than items for themselves.

"From 8 to 9 (a.m.) you could tell who had been out awake a lot longer," Hallberg said. "They just seemed a little tired."

Jamestown's Walmart had a mostly full parking lot 30 minutes before its main sales opened at midnight Friday. Customers gathered around displays of stacked sale items and, when the time was came, quickly grabbed the products they wanted. Popular items included discounted TVs, portable DVD players, home Blu-ray players and movies.

Sun Assistant Editor Logan C. Adams contributed to this report.

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453

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