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Black Friday shoppers swamp retailers

Rosa Bowe wasn’t dressed in a fur-trimmed red suit.

And she had a green Mustang, not a red-nosed reindeer.

But while many people were still recovering from Thanksgiving Day, the Suffolk resident set her alarm early on Friday in order to do justice to another holiday of sorts: Black Friday.

Black Friday n the post-Thanksgiving shopping day which traditionally kicks off the holiday season for retailers n has always been a drawing card for bargain lovers. Around the country, shoppers braved freezing temperatures and wet weather to get the best deals of the season.

In the North Main Street Wal-Mart by 4:30 a.m., Bowe spent more than four hours loading up on gifts for friends and family members: six flat-screen televisions, digital cameras and all sorts of other goodies.

In fact, she did so much shopping that she had to call a friend with a van to come help transport everything home.

“It was hard to get up that early,” Bowe said, carefully watching two Wal-Mart employees trying to maneuver the hefty boxes into the car. “If I had to do it again, I’m not sure I would.

“But I’m glad I did. I got a lot of good savings here this morning.”

Managers at both Wal-Mart and Belk Department Store n two of the city’s largest retailers n say Bowe was one of many people who braved chilly temperatures locally for a bargain.

“It’s been very busy, very hectic here this morning,” said Crystal Bellman, assistant manager at Belk. When she drove up at 4:30 a.m., 30 minutes before the store opened, a handful of people were already lined up outside the doors.

“Sales are great this year,” said Bellman, who said the store met half of its $170,000 sales goal before 11 a.m. “I’m confident we will meet our goals today.”

Sam Wiggs, general manager at Wal-Mart, said Friday n one of the two busiest shopping days of the year, second only to Christmas Eve n was “very busy.”

Although the store is open all night, customers could not receive the post-Thanksgiving sale prices until 5 a.m.

“People were lined up waiting to check out within minutes after that,” Wiggs said. “Things were a lot more manageable this year. We were better prepared and had more special buys but we still sold out of almost everything.”