Milder weather generated longer lines of customers on Black Friday this year than last year, although many South Sound shoppers said they continue to closely monitor their spending because of the slower economy.
“I still need to be mindful of saving my dimes” is how one Friday morning shopper put it.
Customers lined up early Friday at the Target store in Lacey, Best Buy at Westfield Capital mall and at Toys R Us on the city’s west side, which opened at midnight.
Also emphasized on Black Friday, so named because it’s considered a time when retailers begin to turn a profit, was an increase in security. The Lacey Target store had a two-person “asset protection team” on hand to make sure the estimated 500 people who lined up to shop entered the store in an orderly fashion, and shopping carts were dispersed throughout the store to prevent a customer traffic jam, said Trang Lam, a team leader at Target. Lam also cited deep discounts on flat-screen TVs and toys as factors that contributed to the long lines outside the store.
Target shopper Stacey Koher of Olympia said she enjoys Black Friday because it is fun and chaotic, but acknowledged she is spending less this year because she is working fewer hours.
At Best Buy in Olympia, store manager Marcus Drummer, too, said lines were longer than normal this year because of the weather and laptop computer packages that sold for $200 to $400.
“South Sound showed up this morning,” he said.
Inside the mall, Julie Rossi of Portland, visiting South Sound for the holidays, said she has cut her Christmas spending by $500 to $600 because her business is down 50 percent from last year. Rossi buys and sells semitrailers, she said. “Inventory is down and nobody is buying anything,” Rossi said about her small business.
Susie Williams of South Bend in Pacific County said her spending was unchanged from last year because both she and her husband have jobs. Still, she is mindful of her spending as a result of the local downturn in the timber industry, Williams said.
Larry Lytle of Hoquiam, however, who bought a cellular phone with his girlfriend at the mall, said he plans to spend more this year because his work as a logger has increased. Last year he had a lot of time off but this year he has been able to work full time, Lytle said.
At Toys R Us, which opened at midnight, shoppers were in search of the popular and elusive Zhu Zhu pet, a toy hamster which has become this season’s must-have item for children. The hamsters were so popular that the store posted a sign Friday afternoon saying it would hand out tickets, one per family, for another 50 Zhu Zhu robotic toys. By 1 p.m., about an hour before the tickets were to be handed out, six people already stood in line. First in line was Cathy McKay of Olympia, who said she has spent the past few months trying to track down the toy, even driving to Tacoma and Puyallup. What does she like about the toy?
“It’s a hamster that doesn’t make a mess,” she said.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403