Deals pull in shoppers
Black Friday kicks off holiday shopping season
NILES — The holiday shopping season has officially begun.
Carts were a hot commodity at Boscov’s at the Eastwood Mall Friday morning as waves of shoppers seeking Black Friday deals flooded through the doors.
“There’s no carts today,” said Mary Linton of Greenville, Pa., with her hands full of clothes for her granddaughter and Christmas cards. Linton said she’d come to the Eastwood Mall specifically for Boscov’s and to find the “deals of the day.”
Deals, of course, were the name of the game for many Black Friday shoppers — especially because persistent inflation has driven up the cost of food, housing, and fuel.
Friends Allison Jones and Emily Crump of Boardman waited through a line of more than a dozen people to enter Bath and Body Works. The entire store was “buy three, get three free,” on Friday only, according to an advertisement.
“I hope I find something cheap,” said Jones, a first-time Black Friday shopper. Instead of holiday shopping, she was looking for items she needed like lotion, perfume and shoes. Crump had candles and jeans on her list.
Fortunately for deal-seekers, many stores at the mall boasted sales of 20 to 60 percent off items — including some promotions that continue through the weekend.
Locally-owned Reyers shoe store is offering 20 percent off the entire store through Monday. Kay Jewelers has advertised a sale through Monday of 20 to 25 percent off everything and as much as 40 percent off some gold jewelry.
Large department stores like Target, Kohl’s and Macy’s on Friday listed sales of up to 50 percent on some products for in-store shoppers. Old Navy advertised “60 percent off deals.”
Joseph Agati of Lordstown decided to skip the line and guard the shopping bags while his wife, Lori, went into Bath and Body Works. From a bench in the concourse, Agati said the mall traffic was pretty heavy.
“Probably a little heavier than I thought it would be,” he said.
Former retail worker and current Black Friday shopper George Davis of Niles said he couldn’t convince himself to start shopping at 6 a.m. this year, but he was at the mall by a little after 8 a.m. Carrying a large bag from Boscov’s, he said the store was “pretty busy” but that he got through the checkout line quickly.
With the dual perspective of a Black Friday salesperson and shopper, Davis said Black Friday throughout the years has been “pretty much the same.”
As in years past, the mall itself was abuzz with holiday spirit. The mall train was decked out in its Christmas best as it made its way through throngs of shoppers, plenty of whom had donned holiday sweaters or shirts.
For the Elder-Mangel-Trisler extended family from Warren, Niles and Forth Worth, Texas, matching shirts were just one part of their roughly eight-year
Black Friday shopping tradition. About a dozen family members hit the Eastwood Mall Friday morning to not only shop, but also spread Christmas cheer with their festive attire and “singing through the aisles.”
The family usually starts Black Friday with “midnight breakfast,” and then shopping until they’re too tired to go on, but this year got going around 8 a.m.
“It’s just fun,” said Linda Trisler, who each year designs the group’s shirts.
Alison McCullough, 8, and Sadie Mangel, 7, both on their first Black Friday excursion with the family, said they were having a good time, especially because they got reindeer ears and red noses.
Alison added, however, that “it’s not fun waking up early.”
Back at Boscov’s, Ronda Rossi of Hopewell Township, Pa., who who also came to the area specifically to shop at the department store, wheeled a cart overflowing with bags out to her pickup truck. She promised to return the cart to a shopper waiting at the door: Linton, back an hour later after doing a lap around the mall to hit other stores.
Rossi, who said Eastwood’s Boscov’s is bigger than her local store, said she had accomplished the bulk of her holiday shopping in the one trip.
“It’s nice to finally be out again and be able to shop in person — to feel stuff, touch stuff. I like to be able to know what I’m getting,” Rossi said.
She said while she doesn’t mind online shopping, she feels that picking out Christmas gifts in person makes them, well, more personal.