Black Friday brings good news, bad news for local retailers

Published 8:01 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2010

 Black Friday in Greenville: a day of celebration for some larger retailers, a disappoint for some smaller stores.

At Fred’s Discount Store in Gateway Plaza, owner/manager Randy Beeson said his store had a double-digit increase over the day after Thanksgiving in 2009.

We had a really big day and I am very impressed,” said Beeson, whose store opened three hours earlier than usual on Friday, but continued to offer special sales throughout the day.

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I think that was a really smart move on Fred’s part. We were open 15 hours straight and no one had to wait more than eight or nine minutes in line to complete their shopping and they could do it any time in those hours and get those specials, no tickets, no middle of the night shopping,” Beeson said.

The Fred’s manager said the store had 80 percent of the advertised specials still in stock by the end of the day, although hot ticket items like televisions quickly sold out.

Toys, electronics and bed and bath items proved the most popular, Beeson said.

I was amazed at how many comforters we sold, I’ve never seen the like of it. But a really nice comforter for $39 would make a great gift for a family member,” he added.

Surprise Black Friday sellers at the Wal-Mart Super Center in Greenville proved to be $9 waffle makers and $1 towels, said manager James Packer III.

I was anticipating people buying toys, trampolines, TVs—but waffle irons? Who knew?” said Packer.

As expected, bargains offered on hot-ticket items such as televisions, laptops and popular toys at Wal-Mart brought crowds eager to start their holiday shopping.

With the midnight opening, Packer said he saw much excitement with a minimum of pandemonium.

We didn’t have anything covered up or shrink-wrapped. You could touch it, you just couldn’t buy it until the right time. That seemed to build up a lot of anticipation for the shoppers,” Packer said.

Better verbal communication between management and customers also helped make it a smoother ride, he added.

You’ll always run out of a few things high on everyone’s list, but overall I think it went well and we will work on having even more stock on hand for next year. The people of Greenville really turned out and supported us and we appreciate that,” Packer said.

According to Packer, Wal-Mart experienced a 7 percent increase for Black Friday 2010, with sales of $480,000.

While Wal-Mart and Fred’s both posted gains, the results for retailers in downtown Greenville weren’t as positive.

Katrina Scofield, manager of downtown mainstay The Pineapple, said Friday’s sale were “really off” compared to 2009.

We are not sure if it was the weather that day, or the (Alabama-Auburn) game that afternoon, or people concentrating on getting those electronics, but we just didn’t have the traffic we had hoped,” Scofield said. “It was disappointing.”

Things did not pick up for the retailer on Saturday, either, she reported.

We had some out-of-town shoppers who were here visiting with family, but really very few of our local customers. Of course, we are hoping that will change in the coming days,” Scofield said.