Cars come and go at the parking lot at the Walmart at Ashland, Ky., during Black Friday sales.

Archived Story

Opening shopping season draws crowds

Published 9:42am Friday, November 23, 2012

At 3:30 Thursday morning the food court at the Ashland Town Center Mall looked like high noon on any other business day as most tables were filled with shoppers breakfasting on slices of pepperoni pizza, subs and soft drinks.

The line in front of the PretzelMaker was seven deep and almost as many were at the nearby Great American Cookie, though some seemed more were interested watching an employee squeeze an icing design on a 8-inch wide pastry.

Within an hour the food court was almost deserted, a ghost of the scene Black Friday bargain hunters had found when the mall opened at midnight for the first day of Christmas shopping.

“There were so many people,” Breanna Ison of Ashland, Ky., said. “You couldn’t get through. It was like sardines. It is starting to calm down. We’re just waiting for the other stores to open, just taking a break.”

The aroma of tomato sauce and garlic wafted down the main concourse as shoppers darted in and out of specialty boutiques or crashed for a few moments of rest on benches showing off the buys they had found to their friends.

Cathy Fraley of the mother-daughter cottage business, CJ and Nani’s Neck Candy, was adjusting some of the jewelry-laden scarves she produces at one of the kiosks that serves as her makeshift store. She described the crowd when the mall doors opened as mayhem with a mission.

“People were running to their destination,” she said. “It was pretty wild, like a big slumber party. By 3 it had died down. Now there are more shoppers, not the teens.”

Early Bird Bargains were advertised throughout Belk like fine jewelry discounted 55 to 70 percent. Every so often Louie Armstrong singing “Zat You, Santa Claus” on the PA system would be interrupted as another blockbuster sale was announced.

Redonda Thornton of Columbus visiting for the holidays had started her present-buying spree at Target at the Huntington, W.Va., mall at midnight before coming down to Ashland. However she called this year’s Black Friday a disappointment.

“Half of the stores aren’t open and there is not the hustle and bustle,” she said. “It is like any other day. We didn’t even stand in line. There is no Christmas music.”

Lura Mills of Ashland was sharing a bench in front of J.C. Penney’s with Jessica Craig of Olive Hill, Ky., waiting for the anchor store to open at 6 a.m. Both had shown up before midnight and stood in a line that stretched a block long waiting for the mall to open.

“People were waiting to get in, just to get in the front door,” Mills said. “It was a big line.”

They were surprised that the big retailer wasn’t joining in the early Black Friday hours.

“There were thousands of people then,” Craig said. “People could have been shopping there.”

With about an hour and a half left to wait, the pair were already planning their next shopping forays.

“I’m going to Elder-Beerman next,” Craig said. “I have a $10 coupon.”

  • Poor Richard

    Buy American and NOT big box stores!

    Think local, buy American, buy from your community…
    Beautiful Glassware from Blenko Glass,
    Fenton Glass now has the handpainted beads so popular with bracelets;
    Buy from local artists, they paint, weave, make pottery and much more, go online for a directory of artists from the Ohio Arts Council or contact the Ironton Arts Council;
    Check out the gifts at the River Museum, MothMan Museum or the Craft store called the Mason Jar located in Point Pleasant, WV;
    Local Amish communities in Lawrence and Gallia County make quilts, crafts, and furniture;
    Purchase wine from Ohio wineries located in the Ripley-Manchester Ohio area;
    Shop at many of the unique and different stores in downtown Portsmouth, Ripley (Espirit shoe outlet), Ironton (don’t miss Ungers), Jackson or Gallipolis (The Home Place Antique & Craft Mall) Ohio;
    Visit Longaberger baskets in Licking County Ohio;
    or Murphin Ridge, another Amish community in Adams County Ohio;
    Visit the FiestaWare outlet in Flatwoods, WV;
    Purchase gifts from one of Ohio’s historic sites and at the same time help fund the site;
    Order a magazine subscription from a local magazine like ‘Over the Backfence’ published in Ohio;
    Purchase beautiful clay pots, bird baths, and other garden containers from one of Burley Clay’s retailers, Burley is located in Roseville, Ohio;
    Check out the Ohio University gift/book store at the Ironton Campus and several in Athens, Ohio;
    Check out Cookes Farm Center for the bird and animal lover gifts;
    Buy a subscription to the Ironton Tribune for the avid reader in your family;
    If you like Primitives home decor, try ‘No Place Like Home’ behind Lowes in South Point;
    Get Esther Price Candy (since 1926. Sells over one million boxes per year) made in Dayton Ohio and retailed at the Huntington downtown Hallmark;
    Purchase a gift certificate from a locally owned/operated restaurant and visit one like Dick’s Pizza on the Ohio River in Wheelersburg (very special);
    Purchase a CSA from your local farmer for a favorite relative;
    If you love KitchenWare, try Whisk in downtown Huntington;
    that reminds me, the KitchenAid Mixer is made in Greenville, Ohio and YES they have an outlet store!
    The A.I. Root Company, based in Medina Ohio, began in 1869 as a manufacturer of beeswax candles–a tie-in to the family’s Root honey business;
    And just a few miles from Jackson is Wellston Ohio and home of Penn Warehouse an outstanding building supply facility with kitchen cabinets, windows, doors and other goodies for the home.
    Visit Wise Man Woolens in Jackson Ohio, a local yarn shop that processes their own fiber;
    Check the ‘OhioProud’ website for a list of agricultural products made by Ohio farmers…..


    And most of all – have fun exploring!

    (Report comment)

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