Black Friday proves ‘busy’ for area merchants

17 years ago
By Kathy McCarty  
Staff Writer

    ImagePRESQUE ISLE – It may have been 4 a.m. but traffic on Main Street Friday, Nov. 23, looked more like the 5 p.m. rush as early-bird shoppers swarmed local businesses in search of Black Friday shopping deals.

    Many merchants opened early – some as early as 4 a.m. – offering big discounts in hopes of attracting customers in search of the perfect gift. With discounts of up to 40, 50 and even 60 percent or more, it was definitely a buyer’s market. This year was even better for area merchants, thanks to the strong Canadian dollar.
    “We’ve seen a steady increase in Canadian shoppers, as their currency has gone up in value,” said Patti Crooks, manager of the Aroostook Centre Mall. “Friday turnout was good for the mall and Presque Isle. We had a steady flow of customers grabbing the great deals offered at mall stores.”
    Two of those customers were Lourie Swimm and her daughter, Kira Swimm, both of Washburn. The mother-daughter duo were at JC Penney shortly after the doors opened at 4 a.m.
    “I used to work at Sears and offered to work on Black Friday when I was there. This is the first time my daughter and I have come out shopping together. We decided it would just be us girls, no guys invited,” said Lourie Swimm, as her daughter yawned as she browsed clothing on a nearby rack.
    “I’m looking forward to coffee later,” said Kira Swimm.
    Lourie said she was amazed at the traffic when she arrived in town.
    “The roads were a bit slick this morning. I nearly went off the road myself. I got to town and had thought about going to Wal-Mart first, but when I got there, I saw the lot was packed – not a space to be had. So I headed for the mall. Sears wasn’t open when I got here, so I stopped in Penney’s to see what deals I could find here,” said Lourie.
    Getting up at such an early hour didn’t bother Lourie, since her current job requires working off-hours.
    “I’m an RN and am used to the odd shifts. Getting up early or staying up late isn’t anything new to me,” said Lourie.
    The Swimms planned to continue their shopping spree once they finished at Penney’s, hoping to hit some other stores in the mall and eventually check out other businesses in town.
    Businesses selling meals – whether breakfast, lunch or dinner – saw a steady flow of traffic throughout the day, as folks focused more on shopping than on meal preparation opted for being served rather than being the server. Whether it was drive-up or eat-in, eateries saw their fair share of customers on Friday.
    Businesses prepared in advance for what’s become the biggest shopping day of the holiday season.
    “We’re all jazzed, excited. Canadians are flocking in, the stores are stocked and stuffed for the holidays,” said Crooks.
    As the morning wore on, more customers were out and about, searching for that perfect Christmas gift. Lines grew at cash registers but that didn’t dampen the spirit of die-hard shoppers. For most shoppers, it was a chance to meet up with friends and family. Many a story or joke was told as customers advanced to the checkout, paid for their items and lugged their bagged treasures to their awaiting vehicles.
    Clerks and cashiers at stores throughout the city, when asked how Black Friday business went, typically answered with a one-word reply: “Busy.”
    Sgt. Joey Seeley, of the Presque Isle Police Department, had a few reminders for those busy shoppers to help ensure a happy holiday.
    “Don’t leave valuables – wallets, jackets, purses – unattended in shopping carts. It’s too easy for criminals to snatch a purse that’s just sitting in a cart. When leaving packages in vehicle, if possible place them in the trunk. And keep vehicles locked at all times,” said Seeley.


ImageStaff photo/Kathy McCarty
    EARLY-BIRD SHOPPERS – Lourie Swimm, at right, shopped for bargains shortly after 4 a.m. Friday, Nov. 23, with her daughter, Kira Swimm, at JC Penney in the Aroostook Centre Mall. The mother-daughter duo from Washburn were anxious to snap up some good deals on Christmas gifts while enjoying a day of shopping together at local businesses. The Swimms were just two of the hundreds that flocked to area stores in hopes of saving money by buying early this holiday season.