Arlington shoppers turn out for Black Friday

From left, Arlington’s Sylvia Proffitt and Al Albertson browse through the Arlington Pharmacy’s aisles on Nov. 26. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Arlington’s Sylvia Proffitt and Al Albertson browse through the Arlington Pharmacy’s aisles on Nov. 26.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — Long lines and crowded aisles at area “big-box” stores contrasted sharply with less hectic and bustling bargain-hunting in downtown Arlington shops during “Black Friday” on Nov. 26.

Arlington’s Dmitriy Golovatyuk took part in his first Black Friday ever this year to hang out with his friends in the Boersma and Wheaton families of Marysville, who had already staked out the front of the line at the Lakewood Best Buy. While the earliest arrivals began camping out in front of the store at noon on Nov. 24, Golovatyuk waited until 6 p.m. on Nov. 25 to join them.

“If it wasn’t for them, I’d be freezing,” said Golovatyuk, a first-year student at Edmonds Community College who planned on buying laptop computers for himself and others. “I was not prepared at all. Next year, I’ll be bringing some food and a scarf.”

Fellow Arlington resident Andrew Escalante was just a few places in line behind Golovatyuk, and while this was also his first Black Friday as a customer at the Lakewood Best Buy, he was already well-versed on how to navigate the sales rush.

“I work at Boeing now, but I was an employee at this Best Buy last year,” said Escalante, who took his place in line at 11 p.m. on Nov. 25. “I’ve been checking the ads and talking to the staff members that I’m still good friends with. I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m going to get my TV and get out of here.”

Escalante estimated that this year’s Black Friday crowd was larger than last year’s, citing the number of parking spaces that were still open by 5 a.m. on last year’s Black Friday. To help him pass the time, he passed on sales shopping tips to other people in line.

“I’ve been picking his brain all night,” said Richelle Jackson of Everett.

Even with the area’s first snowfall of the winter shutting down many roads and businesses, Lakewood Best Buy General Manager Andrea Chriscaden saw a steady increase in sales during the week leading up to Black Friday, and identified replacements of and upgrades to portable computers and flat-panel televisions as their consistent sales leaders for the past few years.

The recently opened Arlington Walmart was but one of many stops for Arlington resident Christie Waldemer, whose Black Friday began at 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 25 at the Toys “R” Us store in Everett where she waited in line for an hour to get in, and again for two hours to pay for her purchases. By the time she stopped by the Arlington Walmart for a second time at 5 a.m., to pick up the 32-inch television for which she’d waited in yet another line to receive a reservation wristband earlier that morning, Waldemer had picked up fellow Arlington resident Sarah Olsen to replace her original shopping partner, who had grown too tired to continue.

“I haven’t slept yet,” Waldemer said shortly before 6 a.m., after she’d scoped out the Lakewood Target but before she stopped by the Marysville Fred Meyer. “I’ll probably crash around 7:30 or 8 a.m., sleep for four hours, then head out again around 2 or 3 p.m. There have been people I know that I’ve seen at literally every single stop I’ve made along the way.”

“It’s a different type of crowd that comes out on Black Friday,” Olsen said, shortly before she helped Waldemer move her iPod Touch, Transformers toys and other purchases aside, to make room for the TV in the trunk of Waldemer’s car. “It’s so much fun to watch all the chaos. I can’t believe we do all this to save money.”

Arlington Walmart Store Manager Leon White recalled that shoppers began lining up at 8 p.m. on Nov. 25 for the official start of Black Friday at midnight on Nov. 26, but described the customers as cooperative and courteous overall.

“Our business has been absolutely huge, but everybody’s been really friendly and there haven’t been any real issues,” White said. “We’ve just tried to get them what they need and get them checked out as fast as we could.”

Waldemer and Olsen weren’t the only Arlington residents to visit the Marysville Fred Meyer that morning, as Arlington’s Jennifer Aribibola was joined by her mother, Janet Vandiver of Lincoln City, Ore., in shopping for games and clothes at the store.

“We got out of line at the Toys ‘R’ Us because it was taking so long,” said Vandiver, who accompanied her daughter to the Everett Walgreens, the Lakewood Target and the Arlington Walmart before browsing for Levi’s Jeans at the Marysville Fred Meyer. “It was all about who had the best sales. It took us about an hour and a half to map it all out. If you don’t really need something, wait until the store’s been open for half an hour before you go. If you do really need it, you’d better be patient enough to wait 10 hours before the store opens.”

While the “big-box” stores saw brisk sales, many area residents sought out Arlington’s locally owned businesses as alternatives to the more crowded Black Friday destinations.

Although she lives in Marysville, Debra Compton is a regular customer at the Arlington Pharmacy even when she’s not picking up medications.

“I am absolutely not a Black Friday shopper,” Compton said on Nov. 26. “I stay away from the mall and the ‘big-box’ stores, and do as much business as possible with local retailers. There’s so much more variety here than at Walmart. They stock all sorts of unique items to fit people’s quirks. Plus, I’m thankful I can get around safely here.”

Arlington’s Sylvia Proffitt and Al Albertson were browsing through the Arlington Pharmacy’s aisles as they waited for family members to join them for a late Thanksgiving dinner, and they expressed similar support for their hometown merchants.

“We do what we can to help keep local stores like this going,” Albertson said. “They’re just friendlier here. We never walk out of this store empty-handed.”

Dawn Ambler, owner of 2 Bits & More on Arlington’s Olympic Avenue, deemed the flea market’s Nov. 26 foot-traffic better than average for a Friday, while just north on Olympic Avenue, Cheyenne Huot of the School Box store described her own customer traffic as steady throughout the day.

“We’ve had some Black Friday-minded shoppers, while others have said, ‘Oh, you’re having a sale today?’” Huot said. “We seem to have a lot of grandparents buying things for their grandchildren. One person who’d been away from Arlington for a while commented on the friendliness of our town.”

Further north on Olympic Avenue, Rich Senff of Action Sports reported a bit of a bump in his morning traffic on Nov. 26, even though he doesn’t offer any Black Friday sales.

“We had about a dozen customers earlier today, when we usually only get six or eight,” Senff said on Nov. 26. “We cater to what people need, for sports practices and gym classes, rather than what they want, like professional sports gear.”

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