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Crowds come out for Black Friday

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MASSENA — Nearly 40 minutes before the kickoff of Black Friday sales on Thursday night, the parking lot at Massena’s Walmart was nearly full. Up the street at St. Lawrence Centre, more than 300 people were waiting outside Sears for the holiday shopping season to begin.

One of the first in line at Sears was Rick Legault of Waddington.

“I’m going to get a set of diamond earrings for the wife,” he said, adding, “She knows she’s getting them. She picked them out.”

At the store’s rear entrance was a group of Canadian women, who said they had been waiting since 3 p.m. Thursday for Sears to open at 8 p.m.

“We wanted to make sure we got here first,” said Carol Faulkner of Cornwall, Ontario.

Ms. Faulkner managed to get a ticket allowing her to buy one of the limited number of discounted 50-inch TVs.

Amy Jameson, Ogdensburg, was hoping to pick up both a 32-inch and a 50-inch TV.

“One of them is a gift, but the other one is for myself,” she said. “I’m hopeful. I came prepared to spend.”

Her optimism didn’t last long though. When Sears opened its doors, she discovered that tickets for the day’s big ticket items were distributed only at the rear entrance.

“They should have told us that or at least split the tickets up with some at each door,” she said.

Frustrated at striking out, Ms. Jameson said, “That’s why I shop online.”

Other shoppers were having more fun.

Decked out in a neon green T-shirt was Pam LaBarge of Massena. Ms. LaBarge said she was part of a group of 10 women who were all wearing the colorful celebratory gear.

“We do it every year,” she said.

Ms. LaBarge said her day began at 4:40 p.m. Thursday when she got in line at Walmart to wait for a special item that someone will open as a gift on Christmas morning. Five hours later, shopping at Sears, she said her day was just beginning, as she was planning to visit several other stores when the mall opened at 5 a.m.

At 9:30 p.m., as Walmart shoppers were gearing up for another round of sales, the store’s parking lot was nearly filled, as was the adjacent lot at Home Depot.

Inside Walmart, where the scene resembled a mosh pit at a rock concert, many of the aisles were filled with people waiting for one of the night’s special items.

Among those in the crowd was Angela Wilhelm of Massena, who was able to secure a laptop despite waiting in line for less than half an hour.

“They had about 80 of them and there was only about 10 people in line,” she said. “It must not have been a hot seller.”

Another repeat customer was Sue Clouthier of Morewood, Ontario. She also came for a laptop.

When asked what brings her stateside for Black Friday, she replied, “The prices,” adding that many stores in Canada are now starting to offer Black Friday deals of their own, although better bargains can still be found in the U.S.

Several hours later with about 15 minutes to go before St. Lawrence Centre opened its doors, a crowd of approximately 150 people was waiting outside the mall’s main entrance. Among them was Claudia McIntosh of Parishville, who said St. Lawrence Centre was the second stop of her Black Friday weekend.

“We just got here,” she said. “We were at Walmart at 8 p.m., but then we went home and took a nap.”

Ms. McIntosh said she was glad to see the stores all opening at different times, something that makes the Black Friday experience a little bit easier to plan.

“There’s a couple of things in every store,” she said. “So we’ll have to make our rounds. I’m not really good at online shopping. I still stand in line and do it the old-fashioned way.”

St. Lawrence Centre marketing manager Ronald J. Patnode said he was pleased with the turnout.

“We went through 250 bags in 18 minutes,” he said, referring to the gift bags that contained people’s entry into the day’s prize drawings.

Jody Gadway of Brasher won one of the prizes the mall gave away Friday morning: a 50-inch LED high-definition television.

“I love it,” she said. “I don’t know if it will fit in my living room, but I don’t care. If I have to mount it on the ceiling I’ll make it fit.”




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