by Jeff Saunders | Reporter
Nordonia Hills — After enjoying their Thanksgiving meal, many area residents satisfied their appetite for a deal by hitting area stores for Black Friday.
“I went out quick last night,” said Sagamore Hills resident Dave Watroba, who was at Target with his daughter Riley in the Crossings at Golden Link shopping center Nov. 23.
“It was crazy,” said Watroba.
Tiffany Valentine, general manager of the Macedonia Best Buy store, estimated that when the store opened at midnight, “about 1,000” people were waiting outside.
“The line was wrapped around the building,” she said.
At about 8:30 a.m. Nov. 23, Valentine said that things had settled down a bit, as it typically does, but there would likely be an increase in business later in the day.
“I expect it to be steady, with some bursts here and there,” she said.
Trisha Daily, a Target manager on duty at about 9 a.m., said there had been some fall off.
“We’ll pick up normally at around 10 a.m. and go on from there,” said Daily.
Laura Sparano, executive director of the Nordonia Hills Chamber of Commerce, said Black Friday can make a big difference for businesses.
“We have great businesses right here so I hope people took advantage of that,” said Sparano “Money spent here helps the businesses here and the community.”
Watroba said he bought Christmas lights at Sears Hardware in Macedonia, stopped at the Macedonia Commons Walmart store Thanksgiving night and took a look at the Target parking lot shortly after the store opened at 9 p.m.
“The line was past the other side of Lowe’s [Home Improvement Warehouse] and it was four people wide,” he said. “There wasn’t a parking space at Walmart or here. They were jammed.”
Valentine and Daily said that despite the crowds, there were no issues.
“Things have been wonderful,” said Daily.
Aurora resident Katy Younglas, who was at Best Buy the morning of Nov. 23, said she had found some deals.
“This is my second time here. I’m looking for a laptop,” said Daily.
She said it would be her second laptop purchase at the store after coming in when Best Buy opened. Younglas, who also bought a 40-inch television set at Walmart in Streetsboro, said it was her first year shopping on Black Friday.
“I’d do it again for really good deals, but for little things, no,” she said.
Seven Hills resident Mary Lou Kula, who was looking at television sets at Best Buy, said she is not a serious Black Friday shopper.
“I’m in looking mode. I haven’t decided on what I’m going to get,” said Kula. “I just do it for the fun of it. People watching is interesting.”
Garfield Heights resident Scott Smith was also at Best Buy Friday morning.
“I just want to buy my friend a television,” said Smith. “Maybe buy my kids a TV.”
Smith said it was his first experience shopping on Black Friday.
“I thought it would be crazy and it isn’t,” he said. “It’s cool. They’ve got some good things.”
Watroba said he and his daughter were enjoying themselves.
“We’re just going out and having fun,” he said. “We’re having a good time. People are in a good mood.”
Area store owners and managers say they are hopeful of having a healthy holiday shopping season.
“I feel great,” said Valentine. “We’ve had a ton of happy customers and a ton of compliments.”
“I think it’s going to be fantastic,” said Daily. “I think it’s the start of a great year.”
Small businesses benefit
Sparano said smaller businesses, including service stations and restaurants can also benefit from Black Friday traffic.
“They do have to work extra hard to get ready and probably need a full day of rest afterwards,” she said, “ but if the business was in the red, Black Friday surely brings them into the black. Buyers who held back all year, seem to find the cash — and credit power — to spend at this time of year.”
Jody Herzog, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Northfield Center, said the store offered deals on older model shoes and opened at 8 a.m., rather than the usual 10 a.m.
“We have some fun with it,” he said. “We’ve had some customers come in saying this is the only local store they’ll go into on Black Friday. We’ll double, triple, our business from a normal Friday.”
Herzog said business has increased in recent weeks.
“We’re ramping up,” said Herzog. “I think it will be a good holiday season.”
Eileen Leverentz, who owns Leeners, a store that sells such items as beer, wine, cheese, bubble gum and pretzel making kits in Northfield Center, with her husband Jim, said she sees good times in the coming weeks.
“I think people are out spending a little more,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a good sales year.”
Jim Leverentz said small businesses are more likely to benefit from “Small Business Saturday,” which American Express began promoting several years ago.
“They’re really pushing it hard this year,” he said.
Leverentz said the store had some layoffs earlier this year and the “summer was slow, it was rough time for us.”
“The holidays usually pick up. That’s when we do our biggest business,” he said.
Sharon Anderson, owner of women’s clothing store Folio Apparel, next to Fleet Feet Sports, said that because she had only been open a few months, she “can’t gauge against last year,” but she feels hopeful.
“I’m really pleased so far,” said Anderson. “Based on how I’ve done, I think it will be a good season.”