November 29, 2013

Black Friday shoppers brave cold, lines for hot deals

Maine stores open at midnight to lines of hundreds of shoppers

By Gillian Graham
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND - Martin Donohoe came for a television.

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Emily Doyon, 18, of Biddeford tries on a few pairs of boots, shortly after midnight on Friday while shopping with her mother at Bon-Ton in South Portland. Many stores were open early for Black Friday shopping.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

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Black Friday shoppers move up a few spaces in a line that wrapped around Target in South Portland shortly before the store opened at midnight on Friday.

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Emily Doyon came for the boots.

Both shoppers showed up at the Maine Mall on Black Friday, willing to brave the crowds to score a great deal. But each first-time Black Friday shopper had a different strategy for the crowded kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

Donohoe, 64, of Portland sat outside Best Buy for 13 hours before the doors opened at midnight. Bundled against the 22-degree cold and sharp wind, he was second in line and ready to buy a television for $169, nearly half the regular price.

“I just wanted to experience at least once in my lifetime what it’s like to be here on Black Friday,” he said, minutes before the doors opened to the line of hundreds of shoppers that snaked around the corner of the building. “And I need a TV.”

Doyon, an 18-year-old college student from Biddeford, had no plans to go shopping Friday until she and her mother came across an advertisement for a $20 boot sale at Bon-Ton, the mall’s new department store. Less than an hour after the doors opened, she sat in the middle of a pile of shoe boxes as her mother, Ann Marie Doyon, grabbed more boots to try on.

“I’m a college kid on a budget, so I’ll probably get one pair,” Emily Doyon said.

Most stores in Maine are not allowed to open on Thanksgiving because of the state’s blue laws, giving the stores a later jump start on holiday sales than those in other states where stores opened as early as Thanksgiving morning.

But that late start did little to deter Mainers who were ready to shop. Within a half our of the mall’s midnight opening, thousands of shoppers crowded inside, even though some stores remained closed until later in the morning.

Before midnight, the line in front of Target stretched the length of the building and continued around the corner. At nearby Toys R Us, several hundred shoppers – including some huddled in small tents – waited for the doors to open.

The crowd at Walmart in Scarborough was even larger, with two long lines of several hundred people each stretching around the building.

The National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion during the last two months of the year. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession.

Some Maine shoppers said they are spending more this year, while others said they expected their hauls to be much smaller than in years past.

Mike McGovern of Portland, the first person in the Best Buy line, said he has a new job as a mechanical engineer, putting him in the position to spend more than he did last year. He planned to spend nearly $800 on a DSLR camera, $500 on a television and another $100 on a Kindle Fire.

Over at Target, friends Carrie Presley and Lori Exley sat in folding camp chairs in line. They shop together every Black Friday, but both expected to spend less than last year because there were no big sales on toys their children want. Exley said she planned to buy a 40-inch television for $199.

“I’m just looking for what I can find,” Presley said.

While some shoppers at the Maine Mall came armed with a list and a mission, others were there to take in the festivities. Groups of teenagers - only some carrying shopping bags - stood in groups, laughing and talking with friends.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Black Friday shoppers Paulette Darby of South Portland, left, and Annmarie Warburton of Portland, hit the floor running after being among the first to enter Best Buy in South Portland at midnight on Friday.

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Zoe Sweet of Westbrook rests with her daughter, Luci, 10, as she waits for another daughter and her friend to finish shopping at Bon-Ton in South Portland. The Maine Mall and many of the surrounding stores opened their doors at around midnight to accomodate Black Friday shoppers.

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Black Friday shoppers shuffle past a window advertising a sale shortly after midnight on Friday at the Maine Mall.

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Sales associates work the registers as a long line forms with Black Friday shoppers at Old Navy in South Portland shortly after midnight.


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