Earlier Black Friday kicks off holiday shopping season in DuluthUPDATE: Northland shoppers took advantage of extended retail hours early this morning and were part of a nationwide trend of bargain hunters participating in post-Thanksgiving extreme shopping.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
The food court buzzed like a high school cafeteria. Shoppers sampled spritzes of Fame, the perfume by Lady Gaga. Topless male models posed in the doorway of clothing shops geared for teens.
Just a normal start to the peak shopping season at Miller Hill Mall in Duluth — except that it was after midnight as Grey Thursday darkened into Black Friday.
Northland shoppers took advantage of extended retail hours early this morning and were part of a nationwide trend of bargain hunters participating in post-Turkey Day extreme shopping.
While you were sleeping, someone somewhere was scoring a sweet deal.
“This is sleepwalking,” said Lina Torkelli, of Thunder Bay, who was part of a threesome of shoppers who come to Duluth annually for post-Thanksgiving sales.
Her friend, Barb Weatherbee, yawned.
Bonnie Locken, of Hoyt Lakes, took time out for food from Leeann Chin. She settled into a table in the food court with her daughter and granddaughter. Behind her, a shopping cart overflowed with boxes and bags. She already had dropped a few loads off at the truck, she said.
Locken isn’t a Black Friday regular, but she was drawn by the deals: a camera from Target; an Xbox 360 from Best Buy.
After being awake for about 20 hours:
“I feel exuberant,” Locken said but admitted that might change by the time she sat down in the truck.
The group planned to take advantage of even more nontraditional store hours.
“We might have to go through Virginia,” Locken’s daughter, Janelle Baxter, said. “Menards opens at 5.”
Machelle Kendrick, director of marketing at Miller Hill Mall, said the rush started before midnight when shoppers filled the concourse near the cosmetics store, Ulta. It was high-traffic until shopping tapered off between 3 and 5:30 a.m. By noon today, things had ramped up again.
“I noticed a lot of families shopping together,” Kendrick said. “I saw a lot of mom-and-daughter activity that was precious. A lot of people think this is a profit-driven event. I think it’s a way to see neighbors and friends you haven’t seen — in a way you can’t when you shop online.”
Even Kendrick took some time to shop in the middle of the night.
Kmart, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Target were among the local stores that catered to night owls.
For some shoppers, it wasn’t just about sales. It was about being part of an event.
“It’s the experience,” Torkelli said, “the rush of being around a lot of people.”
Although, Torkelli said, Americans need to take back Thanksgiving, spend the time with family instead of shopping. She wouldn’t shop on Canada’s Thanksgiving, she said.
After braving long lines at Target and more shopping at the mall, Lindsey Nordin sat in a chair outside of Old Navy.
Was this fun?
“No,” she said. “It’s not.”
Nordin was part of a group from Fort Frances, Ontario, that was in a tough spot: they were done with the stores that currently were open, but still wanted to hit jcp, the store formerly known as J.C. Penney, one of the mall’s almost-128 retailers that opted to open at 6 a.m. today, rather than midnight.
Jinny Lee, a University of Minnesota Duluth student from South Korea, was slouched on a leather couch beneath a quilted winter coat just before 3 a.m.
“This kind of thing is not (what we do) in my country,” she said. “I wanted to experience it.”
Lee got to the mall with friends at midnight. She said she mostly bought clothes. Her assessment:
“It’s kind of exciting,” Lee said, “but I’m tired.”