Sales draw Suffolk shoppers

Published 8:32 pm Friday, November 23, 2012

Outside Dick’s Sporting Goods at Harbour View East on Black Friday morning, sisters Bianca Ward and Erica Madray show off the spreadsheet that helped ensure they wouldn’t miss anything on their wish list.

Stores across Suffolk were swamped with shoppers during Black Friday, many of whom had started while still digesting Thanksgiving dinner.

One hot spot for deals was Harbour View East, where the scene shortly before 7 a.m. was largely a mopping-up exercise for shoppers who had started hours earlier.

A manager at Dick’s Sporting Goods, who did not wish to be identified due to the company’s media policy, said shoppers were lined up in droves for the store’s midnight opening.

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“Our volume of traffic at midnight was exponentially higher than we thought it was going to be,” he said.

A lull occurred between about 2 and 5:45 a.m., he added, before a significant number of shoppers began rolling in again.

Outside Dick’s, Kelly Hagerman, 33, was one of a clutch of Suffolk residents who managed to bridle their credit cards long enough to share some Black Friday triumphs and letdowns.

Hagerman said she hadn’t planned a retail assault but decided to put her workout on hold and hit the North Suffolk Walmart while en route to the gym.

“I thought I would see what they had,” she said. “I got a few things, but not anything that was, like, on sale.”

Barbara Gaskins, aged “over 55 and under 60,” also of Suffolk, said that a 7 a.m. start was early enough for her. “I’m not into that long-lines type of deal,” she said.

“This is the first time I’ve taken off from work just to go shopping. They had Crocs on sale — buy one, get one free.

“I’m going to hit Walmart, if they’re not too crowded, then I’m going to the liquor store at 9 a.m. to get their Black Friday deals – 50 percent off! Everybody’s getting liquor and Crocs (for Christmas)!”

Stephanie Vick, 26, journeyed to Harbour View from Southampton County to snap up some hot deals.

She started at 9:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving by standing in line at Belk for one of the $12 gift cards they were handing out.

“Then I went home, took a nap, and came back for the 6 a.m. sale,” Vick said, adding that Kohl’s and PetSmart were next on the list. “It’ll be a couple of more hours, then I’ll call it quits.”

Portsmouth’s Bianca Ward, 20, and Erica Madray, 26, also outside Dick’s basking in the afterglow of a good deal or two, had armed themselves with a spreadsheet from which they were methodically ticking off their purchases.

Holding a clipboard with the spreadsheet and thick sheaf of coupons, Madray explained that the list was organized by “category, store I’m shopping at, gift suggestion, price suggestion, and then the name of the person I’m buying for.”

The sisters downed some turkey and hit the stores at 5:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving. “We’ve been going non-stop,” Ward said.

“We started in Chesapeake (and) we just got to Suffolk now,” added Madray, nursing a coffee.

Ward recited the stores they’d hit: “Target, Sears, Bath and Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, The Children’s Place; we went to Cracker Barrel to get Granddad some of his favorite peanut brittle and stopped and got breakfast and now we’re over here.”

An Xbox 360 was Ward’s main objective. Having crossed that off, “Now I’m here to get hoodies and to find some shoes and stuff for my friends for Christmas.”

Madray said her most prized purchases so far were video game Epic Mickey 2 and sundry items from Victoria’s Secret. “I’m going in here to get golfing gloves,” she said of an impending Dick’s foray.

It was her third consecutive Black Friday retail experience, Madray said. Ward chimed in: “We hadn’t done it together yet — we’ve started a tradition.”

Harbour View PetSmart manager Sam Linde said folks flooded in when the doors opened. “A good portion of the store is half-off right now,” she said. “Dog beds are 50 percent off, all of our holiday merchandise is 50 percent off; rawhide treats, toys, all that kind of stuff.”

Suffolk’s Anne Godwin, 50, had started shopping at midnight and was at PetSmart after first hitting Virginia Beach’s Lynnhaven Mall. “It’s pretty fun if you go out with family and friends,” she said.

Chris Richards, 27, also of Suffolk and who also started at midnight at Lynnhaven Mall, said the atmosphere in Virginia Beach was “a little hectic. Around three o’clock it died down.”

Outside Harbour View GameStop, Guy Harris, who was out with three family members, said golfing items at Dick’s and electronics were on the radar.

GameStop manager Mike Brittle said about 100 people had lined up before doors opened at 12:01 a.m. “The biggest rush was from 12:01 to probably 2 o’clock,” he said. “After that it pretty much died down to normal shopping.”

Black Friday shoppers were scarcer at North Main Street Walmart, but Chelsea Fulk, 71, visiting nearby Belk to buy shoes at about 8 a.m. Friday, described a scene of bedlam Thanksgiving night.

“We went to buy something that came on sale at 10,” Fulk said. “I’ve seen Walmart parking lot full before, but this time it was all the way to the road, I mean it was jam-packed.

“I never saw so many people in my life. It was great. Everybody was just excited; everybody was just buying. They were being careful to make sure people weren’t being ugly; they had police in there as well.”

Its manager Lisa Outland said more than 260 people lined up outside the North Main Street Belk ahead of its midnight opening.

“We had sweaters for $9.99 by Chaps (and) Ralph Lauren, and we had pants and different shirts buy-one-get-two-free,” she said.