November 30, 2013

Maine shoppers flood local stores on Black Friday

And the deals will keep coming on Small Business Saturday.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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From left, Matt and Amy Powell of Durham, along with Danielle Marston of Norway and mother-in-law Brenda Marston of Oxford, make their way back to their vehicle after shopping at the outlets in Freeport on Friday.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Melanee Paul of Kennebunk picks up her purchases from sales assistant Louisa Gemmer, right, at Blanche + Mimi in Portland on Friday.

Amelia Kunhardt/Staff Photographer

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Amber Greenwood of Auburn said she was new to Black Friday shopping. Greenwood got up at 3:30 a.m. Friday and started her shopping day at Bull Moose in Lewiston before going to Freeport.

“I also worked in retail for 10 years, so I’m used to seeing Black Friday from the supply and retail side,” Greenwood said. “This is my first time as a shopper. I’m getting to see it from a different perspective.”

Megan Abercrombie, a sales clerk at the Blanche + Mimi housewares boutique in Portland, said the store opened at 9:45 a.m. Friday, 15 minutes earlier than planned, because customers were already standing outside.

“We’ve been busy all day, but we’re expecting some further pickup tomorrow on Small Business Saturday. That’s really been an effective promotion that seems to grow every year,” Abercrombie said.

As part of that effort to encourage Americans to support local stores, Jeanne Hulit, acting administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will attend an event at Longfellow Books in Portland on Saturday.

Small Business Saturday started in 2010 as a promotion by American Express. Last year, shoppers spent $5.5 billion in the “small business” movement, according to an estimate by American Express.

“Small Business Saturday is really starting to get legs,” said Denise Cole, a co-founder of D. Cole Jewelers on Exchange Street in Portland. “People seem to think of Black Friday as a day for the big-box stores and Small Business Saturday as the day for local businesses.”

LONG LINES OF BARGAIN HUNTERS

D. Cole Jewelers in the Old Port expects an increase in traffic Saturday, but the store tends to get busiest on the Saturday before Christmas and on Christmas Eve.

“Jewelry makes a great last-minute purchase. We’re definitely busiest the closer and closer we get to Christmas,” Cole said.

Except for certain sporting-goods stores, such as L.L. Bean, stores larger than 5,000 square feet with five employees or more cannot open on Thanksgiving, by state law. So retailers in Maine from Target to Best Buy to Toys R Us waited until midnight to open, letting in long lines of bargain hunters.

Allie Walker, 17, of Gorham and Katie Pride, 18, of Scarborough arrived at the Maine Mall at midnight.

Walker, who shops on Black Friday every year, planned to spend $300. Pride, who was shopping on Black Friday for the first time, said “my mom said $120 is my limit.”

About 2,000 people were at the Walmart in Auburn when the store opened at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Police arrested one woman for disorderly conduct, saying she tried to force her way to the front of the line, The Associated Press reported.

Before midnight, the line in front of the Target in South Portland stretched the length of the building and around the corner. At nearby Toys R Us, several hundred shoppers – including some who huddled in small tents – waited for the doors to open. The crowd at the Walmart in Scarborough was even larger, with two lines of several hundred people each. Nationally, Walmart said it set records on Thanksgiving, exceeding the 22 million customers it got on Thanksgiving last year.

From 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Walmart processed more than 10 million register transactions in its stores, while its website processed nearly 400 million page views, including customers who used mobile devices and tablets.

Target Corp. said it had “unprecedented numbers” of shoppers in its stores, online and on mobile devices, with website traffic and sales among the highest in a single day. In the early-morning hours after the “doorbusters” – deeply discounted items in stores and online – first became available, Target.com got twice as many orders as it did last year, the company said.

Staff Writer Gillian Graham contributed to this story. 

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com

Twitter: @JessicaHallPPH

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Additional Photos

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Shoppers browse at LeRoux Kitchen on Commercial Street in Portland on Friday.

Amelia Kunhardt/Staff Photographer

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Becky Clarke of Oakfield shows a pair of boots to her daughter Emily Clarke, foreground, as the two shop for Black Friday deals at the L.L. Bean outlet in Freeport on Friday.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Jorge Jurado and his son Jorge Jurado Jr., visiting from New Jersey, carry their purchases out of the Maine Mall in South Portland after a morning of shopping on Black Friday. Southern Maine retailers reported brisk sales and steady crowds.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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