Editor’s note: Were you among the 135 million? That’s the estimated number of shoppers who packed stores for Friday’s traditional kickoff of the holiday gift-buying season. With a tough economy and only 27 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, there was a higher sense of urgency in picking up early deals. In the final part of his series Season of Green, Courier-Post reporter Brent Engel talks with shoppers and retailers who were part of the madness.



So much for the prognosticators.


Editor’s note: Were you among the 135 million? That’s the estimated number of shoppers who packed stores for Friday’s traditional kickoff of the holiday gift-buying season. With a tough economy and only 27 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, there was a higher sense of urgency in picking up early deals. In the final part of his series Season of Green, Courier-Post reporter Brent Engel talks with shoppers and retailers who were part of the madness.

So much for the prognosticators.
Shoppers around the region stood in the chilly darkness or braved long lines to catch bargains for the start of the Christmas gift blitz.
More than 130 Americans were expected to participate in the annual spectacle known as Black Friday.
Many shoppers ignored expert predictions that a poor economy would affect sales.
Kim Weiberg of Laddonia and her daughter, Heather McAfee of Vandalia, left home at 3:30 a.m. to be in Hannibal for the early store openings.
“It’s tradition,” McAfee said. “There’s always one hot item, and you have to get in line early or they’ll be out.”
Dotty McGarry of Philadelphia waited until 8 a.m. to visit a store.
“I usually don’t come out at the crack of dawn,” McGarry said. “I look at the circulars, pull out the things I want and then come only for those things. After that, I go home.”
McGarry’s habit apparently had rubbed off on her daughter, Sarah, who accompanied her.
“I come in with the list, get what I need and go,” Sarah McGarry said. “There’s no way I’d get up that early.”
Some weren’t shopping by choice. Terry Yeater of Hannibal got dragged along by his wife, Denny.
“I’m wanting to get home,” he said about 9:30 a.m. “I’ve been out since four o’clock.”
The majority of shoppers in many stores were women, but that didn’t stop Gary W. Orr and his son, Gary G. Orr, of Vandalia.
“I don’t pay any attention to them,” Gary W. Orr said of the lady shoppers.
Trudy Robertson of Hannibal had hit six stores by 10 a.m.
“I’ve got two grandchildren to shop for,” she explained. “They’re kind of picky on what they’ll wear.”
Hannibal retailers loved it.
“We’re having a very good day,” said Rich Hudson, manager of JC Penney. “Traffic was very strong right out of the chute.”
“I call it controlled chaos,” said Lisa Irvine, manager of Bath & Body Works. “It was gangbusters right off the bat. The doors opened and we had people waiting.”
“So far, it’s been a great season for us,” said Kelly Boggiano, manager of Forgotten Treasures. “We are doing better than we did last year. We have returning customers, which is good.”
“I’m an optimist,” said Mike O’Cheltree of the Native American Trading Company. “Even though the economy is what they say it is, I don‘t think it’s hit the Midwest as hard as it’s hit the coasts. People still have discretionary money.”
“I came in at 8 o’clock and there were people standing in line to get in,” said Julie Rolsen, owner of Main Street Kitchen. “We’ve already done better than we did last year.”
“It’s retail,” said Tiffany Ruesch, a clerk at Miss Trindy’s Main Street Boutique in Hannibal. “It always does good on Black Friday.”
Clerks said crowds were well-behaved.
“It hasn’t been horrible,” said Lacey Colborn, a sales associate at JC Penney, who started work at 3:30 a.m. “People have been really nice. They haven’t been pushy at all. They’ve been very polite.”
“Most people want to find the best deal for their money,” said Amanda Willis, a sales associate at Bath & Body Works, who began her work day around 6 a.m. “Most people are in the Christmas mood.”
Some shoppers planned to avoid all the mess by using catalogs or the Internet.
“You don’t have to leave your house,” said Andrew Eitel of Bethel.
Most, however, plan to stick with the traditional route.
“You might find a better bargain in a store,” said Dennis Gill of Perry.
“I kind of like going to the store and watching other people shop,” said Wynetta Davis of Hannibal. “The Internet is a little too much.”
If you really can’t stand crowds, avoid Dec. 20. The Saturday before Christmas is expected to the the second-busiest next to yesterday’s turnout.