Friday not as Black as usual

While some people in the Marysville and Arlington area woke up nursing turkey hangovers that they hoped to shake in time for the Apple Cup, others didn’t sleep a wink as they bundled upfor some hard-hitting Black Friday deals.

Some of the area’s larger retailers at Marysville and Arlington shopping centers opened at 5 a.m., with others waiting an hour or two later.

Yes, people still flocked to their favorite stores to find holiday gift items and door buster bargains, but business activity was steadier throughout the day, rather than the nightmarishcheckout lines and panic to find a parking space that put the “black” in Black Friday around some parts of the country.

Marysville Towne Center Mall stores saw brisk activity throughout the morning. J.C. Penney kept busy with great deals on clothing, jewelry and appliances.

Dana Elkhorn of Everett said she includes J.C. Penney on her Black Friday shopping quest because “it is easier to get in, get out than some of the large shopping centers.”

Among local retailers, Fred Meyer in Marysville was unmatched for non-stop packed parking lots and busy checkout lines.

Kohl’s Black Friday deals and door buster display tables were getting picked over. Popular items included towels, clothes and Christmas decorations. Kohl’s opened its doors at 5 a.m., but didnot have the waiting crowd that they have had in past years.

Store clerks at Target said shopper traffic was okay compared to other Black Friday years, but they expected activity to pick up later in the day.

The National Retail Foundation has forecast holiday season sales will rise 3.6 percent, in what would make it one of the best seasons in recent times. Experts don’t believe that a more ho-hum Black Friday is necessarily a bad sign for retailers, since shoppers are spreading their holiday spending out over a longer season. Some retailers have been offering discount on holidaymerchandise since late October. The contentious presidential election likely dampened consumer mood, and online shopping siphoning off some in-store spending could have an impact onBlack Friday shopping activity, too.

This year, there may be something to the observation that more people are going for a more crafty Christmas, creating their own hand-crafted holiday gifts for loved ones and holiday décorfor their homes.

JoAnn Fabrics in Smokey Point opened at 6 a.m. with special Black Friday coupons and half-off deals, and did brisk activity late into the morning. Michaels at Lakewood Crossing saw eightpeople in line when the store opened at 7 a.m., but shopping didn’t pick up until later in the morning. Hobby Lobby in the newer Market Place Plaza near Lakewood Crossing had a steadymorning flow of shoppers, too.

Ann Lathrum of Marysville said she got out early to browse Black Friday deals at Lakewood Crossing, but she was looking more forward to specials as part of the next day’s Shop SmallSaturday.

“I usually go to the big stores on Black Friday, but I’ve been trying to shop locally more often at smaller specialty stores when I can,” Lathrum said.

Shop Small Saturday, or Small Business Saturday launched by American Express in 2010, has garnered more attention this year thanks to a huge television marketing campaign. The initiativeencourages people to support small business in a big way.

This is the fifth year that Hilton Pharmacy in Marysville has participated in the campaign, Owner Mary Kirkland said.

“’Shop Small’ has taken off locally and nationally, and it has been incredible,” she said.

There are great deals in store, of course, but businesses like hers and other downtown merchants on Third Street will be playing holiday music outside to create a “neighborhoody” mood, andsurprises inside.

“I have always been blown away and humbled by how many people just came in because you’re a small business, but to hear them actually just say that warms my heart,” Kirkland said.

Kirkland’s words elicited a reply from a shopper who said she comes all the way from Puyallup every year to shop at Hilton because she enjoys the staff, the atmosphere and the holidaytreasures that fill the store shelves during the holidays.

If Black Friday and Small Business Saturday get overlooked, shoppers still have Cyber Monday to look ahead to.

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