By jeanne starmack
Anyone who showed up at Kraynak’s at 4 a.m. on Black Friday expecting to bust through the doors for sales would have been disappointed.
There were no doorbusters. There wasn’t even an open door, and there wouldn’t be for several more hours.
Kraynak’s, a Christmas destination store that routinely draws shoppers from throughout the region, opened at 9 a.m. as usual.
There were plenty of people there by early afternoon. A line of cars backed up to the street as shoppers sought parking spaces behind the store.
Inside, however, there was no pushing, no jostling — and no one was in danger of getting trampled.
The aisles were easily navigated in the 20,000-square-foot store with an additional 2 acres of greenhouses that feature everything for Christmas — games and toys; candy and candles; decorations and ornaments; sports team mugs, glasses, shirts, pillows, pennants, neckties and baby bibs; plants, including plenty of poinsettias; and so many unusual gifts — maybe that hard-to-buy-for relative would appreciate a ceramic bird house in the shape of an ice skate. There are even fresh-cut trees, trees with root balls and evergreen garlands and wreaths in the garden center on Kerrwood Drive behind the store.
Kraynak’s, at 2525 E. State and the corner of Kerrwood, was maybe a bit busier than usual Friday, said employee Travis McClain, who was stationed at the back door.
“Today? Yeah,” he said. “The past few weekends have been very, very busy, so that’s good. It’s a little busier today because everyone’s in the Christmas spirit,” he said.
But not necessarily because it was Black Friday.
Kraynak’s doesn’t push the Black Friday hype, agreed store manager Dan Zippie. That’s because Kraynak’s doesn’t need it.
“We keep the same hours the entire season,” he said as he sat in his office in the store, sales posters spread out on a table in front of him. “We do four-day sales Friday through Monday, But no hourly specials.”
And, unlike other retailers who drew the ire of traditionalists, Kraynak’s wasn’t open on Thanksgiving.
“It was nice to give our employees the day off, because we’re so strong all year,” he said.
What allows Kraynak’s to snub the whole Black Friday deal?
Santa’s Christmasland — a free attraction more than 300 feet long that features more than 70 decorated trees and 15 different scenes, from the first that includes a whimsical bear on a snowmobile to the last, always a traditional Nativity tableau that invites a remembrance of “the true meaning of the season,” Zippie said.
There are different scenes every year, he said, because so many people come back that Kraynak’s wants to give them something new to see.
The store usually dismantles Christmasland on Dec. 26, but this year, it will keep it up until Dec. 31, he said.
After Christmasland, kids can enjoy a free visit with Santa, though parents pay for a picture.
In an out-of-the-way spot in one of the less-traveled aisles, Adam and Lindsey Harper of Ironton, Ohio, gave their 2-month-old daughter, Jessa, a bottle and showed off a picture of her asleep on Santa’s arm.
“We usually come to walk through the Christmas trees and then just to look around,” Lindsey said. Coming to the store every Friday after Thanksgiving is a tradition for them, said Adam, adding that the couple were visiting relatives in East Palestine.
Tradition played a strong role in a Virginia Beach couple’s visit to the store as well.
“I’ve been coming here since younger than I can remember,” said Ben Daurio, who has roots in Lawrence County. His girlfriend, Ashley Mathis, accompanied him for the first time last year.
And Greta Dowell, who lives in Columbus but was visiting family in the North Hills near Pittsburgh, said her mother, aunts and cousins have a girls’ lunch then come shopping.
Dowell doesn’t go anywhere else on Black Friday, she said. “Just here — it’s a tradition.”