'Black Friday' rings in holiday shopping season

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- Overall, it appears area retailers got the response they wanted for the start of the holiday shopping season.

"So far, so good," said Michael Bruner, store manager of Sears at the Albany Mall. "We've had very good traffic."

Chuck Knight, owner of Knight's Appliance on North Slappey Boulevard, also had an enthusiastic crowd. He came to work to find some customers waiting in line as early as 5 a.m. to take advantage of low prices. He ended up opening his store at 7:15 a.m., 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

"It's going great. We had a blast this morning," Knight said at midday Friday. "We had a great response; this is about the best 'Black Friday' response we've ever had. We are hoping it will continue into the weekend."

Most of the store's door-buster items were sold by 11 a.m., Knight said.

Kathy Nelson of Albany normally hates crowds. In light of some of the sales occurring Friday, however, she opted to stop by Belk at the Albany Mall.

"I just scanned through the paper and saw a few items," she said. "I thought I'd do it this year because it's real tight. I'm going to have to cut back.

"I'm trying to get something of quality as well."

Dawn Thompson of Doerun has participated in post-Thanksgiving sales since her sister got her into it four years ago. Until she saw the deals going on Friday, she almost didn't make it out this year.

"After Thanksgiving dinner, we get the paper and plan the day out," she said while shopping at Belk. "I had decided not to come out, but when I saw the savings I changed my mind."

After working Thursday night, Lorraine Cruit of Cuthbert decided to take advantage of the holiday sale for the second year in a row while at Kohl's Friday.

"The prices are lower compared to other times of the year," she said.

Latrisha Batten of Albany was also at Kohl's Friday for her first time on the day after Thanksgiving. Based on the experience, she said she would likely come back next year.

"I had a friend that wanted to go shopping," she said. "I'm cutting back; I'm looking for the lowest prices."

Cathy Manuel of Leesburg, a Target shopper, is also looking to get more for less this holiday season.

"(Black Friday sales) are something I normally do; my husband got me onto them," she said. "I'm not getting a lot of wants, just what's needed. Normally I would spend more, but not this year."

The hunt for the lowest prices have come in part from the economic doldrums impacting many shoppers in Southwest Georgia. Even so, based on the activity from Friday, retailers expect to do well this year.

"At least we're not decreasing," Bruner said.

In order to accommodate shoppers and ease tension, some outlets adjusted their operation hours to open before daybreak Friday. J.C. Penney had a "soft opening" at 3:30 a.m. Other stores, including Kohl's, Sears and Belk, were open at 4 a.m.