The traditional Black Friday faded to gray as area retail stores opened their doors early Thanksgiving evening for the annual bonanza of Christmas sales. Tanger Outlets opened at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night and remained open until 10 p.m. Friday.
“It’s been busy,” said Carl Landis, Tanger Outlets general manager. Landis said he noticed the crowd started to pick up Wednesday as shoppers left work for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Landis said he was expecting the crowd to be between the size of what the mall did during its grand opening in June and what it was during the Ohio Tax Free weekend in August.
“The crowds were very strong all night into the morning hours until 4 a.m.,” Landis said Friday morning. “It slowed down between 4 – 8 a.m., but it will pick back up again after 8 a.m.”
Landis said shoppers who wait until Friday will get the same deals as those who started shopping when the mall opened Thanksgiving night. He said the stores won’t run out of stock on any of their items. “Stores prepare for this weekend,” he said. “The bonus to waiting until Friday is people won’t have to deal with the crowds or strategic shoppers.”
Landis predicted Friday would be a bigger day for Tanger Mall than Saturday because of the Ohio State-Michigan game. He said he thinks many people will want to get their shopping out of the way so they can stay home for the big game.
Rebekah Branham, of Circleville, said, she and her two friends were up at 3 a.m. to start their day of shopping. Their first stop was the Lancaster Mall before driving to Tanger. “We’re shopping for really good deals on Christmas presents,” Branham said.
Store managers report they have seen an increase in the crowds coming through their stores over the last few weeks.
“I’ve seen business picking up every week for the last month,” said Sal Nigro, store manager of The Book Warehouse. “The first Christmas for the mall is always a plus.”
Nigro’s eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep. He had been up all night working since the mall opened at 6 p.m. “We were busy from 7:30 p.m. until 2 a.m.,” he said. “I think it will pick back up around 10:30 a.m.”
Nigro said he was expecting Friday to be just as busy as his night had been. He also said he didn’t have any plans of going home for a few hours of shut eye on Friday. “I brought my blankie to catch some Zs in the back,” he said. “I’ll stay to help my assistant manager close.”
Nigro also confessed he didn’t want to lose his parking space just for couple of hours of sleep.
Patrice Silarski, store manager of Lindt Chocolate, said, business had been steady through the night for the store. “From 5 p.m. to midnight it was constant,” she said. “After 12 a.m. it dropped off.”
Larry Kramer had stopped into Lindt Chocolate with his three sons for a cup of coffee and hot chocolates to chase away the morning chill. “We were out the door at 7 a.m.,” he said. “We were here earlier buying presents for their mom. When we passed it again, they wanted to stop for hot chocolate.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.