Local businesses, shoppers preparing for Black Friday

Sharna Johnson

Local merchants are already a step ahead of Thanksgiving, preparing for “Black Friday,” the traditional kickoff for the holiday shopping rush.

At Triangle Ace Home Center, General Manager Randy Petty said the store will open an hour early at 7 a.m. and offer a promotional sale Friday.

Bracing for the day, Petty said all employees work with no time off requests allowed for the day after Thanksgiving.

Offering everything from hardware, tools, gift and kitchen items to outerwear, he said Triangle typically sees a good crowd on Black Friday.

“Typically our transaction counts are at least double sometimes triple,” he said, explaining the morning rush carries the bulk of it.

“Most of those transactions are before 1 p.m.”

And it’s often the softer side that sees the stronger sales, he said, such as home decor and unique gift items.

Some customers aren’t even waiting for Black Friday.

Thanksgiving night and Black Friday are going to be a marathon shopping experience for Jan Scheid of Osage City, Kans.

Visiting her daughter who is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, Scheid said they have plans to start around 10 p.m. Thursday in Lubbock when some of the large chain stores start opening for promotions.

Unfortunately,” she said with a laugh.

“My daughter has it all mapped out —I’m actually the wing man.”

For Bruce Gray, owner of Roden-Smith Village, Black Friday will no doubt be a significant day for sales, but it will be the final week before Christmas when the greatest numbers are seen.

“It’s a very, very good day (but) it’s probably not our best day,” he said.

Offering gifts, bridal registry, kitchen accessories, furniture, a candy and coffee shop, gourmet foods and more, Gray said, “We’re a last minute (stop). We gift wrap free so they go out the door with it all ready to go under the tree.”

The store will open at 9 a.m. and will offer discounts on some Christmas items and other things, but otherwise Gray said doesn’t make a big deal out of Black Friday.

“We usually have a pretty good day (but) we don’t compete with the big box guys because we don’t open up at three o’clock in the morning,” said Gray, who has owned the more than 60-year-old business since 1972.

“I think we have a pretty good variety for them to shop from and they don’t have to get up at three o’clock in the morning.”

Economists are projecting that while customers are still deal-driven this year and drawn in by promotions, they are less distracted by the economy than last year.

Early analysis shows merchants are in a better place than they were a year ago, when the early discounts failed to pull in shoppers.

ShopperTrak, a research firm that tracks sales and traffic at more than 70,000 outlets, last week raised its holiday growth forecast to 3.2 percent from 2.9 percent. That compares with a 0.4 percent decline in 2009, according to ShopperTrak’s calculations.