As intended, once the clock struck midnight, Moonlight Madness – Freeport’s launch of the holiday shopping season – brought a rush of customers into Freeport stores early last Friday.

Store managers reported brisk sales from then until about 2-3 a.m. There was a brief lull as those shoppers went home, but some stores – notably on Bow Street near the Main Street intersection – were hopping with shoppers again by 7 a.m., as Moonlight Madness morphed into Black Friday. With store-wide markdowns of around 50 percent, clerks had all they could do to handle lines of customers at the J. Crew Factory Store, The North Face and Tommy Hilfiger.

“I’ve been here since 11 (p.m. Thursday),” said Deanna Lee, assistant manager at J. Crew. “Midnight was really busy. Mexicali Blues opened at 11. It allowed people to go there, see we were open and come up here.”

Lee reported seeing “super happy” customers. Men’s and women’s flannels marked down from $64.50 to $29.95 were selling briskly, she said.

Kelly Edwards, executive director of FreeportUSA, which markets Freeport as a shopping and lodging destination, said Monday she has heard nothing but positives on Black Friday sales in town. That, in turn, could portend well for FreeportUSA’s huge Sparkle Celebration, the festive weekend event starting Friday that will bring even more shoppers to town.

”We’re just beginning to reach out to the businesses, and so far, people were beating their intended goals,” Edwards said. “That’s really a good sign. Some people were parking around a grassy area near the Town Hall. I’ve never seen cars parked there. That tells me that people were willing to get creative to be in Freeport for Black Friday.”

On the morning of Black Friday, Nikki Turek of Camden, shopping with her family, had two huge bags full of purses she purchased as gifts from Coach. Turek, who moved to Maine from California, was positive regarding the shopping environment in Maine.

“The sales tax is lower here,” Turek said. “For me, as a shopper, it’s very reasonable.”

The North Face, across Bow Street from J. Crew, was just as busy on its three floors of shopping space during mid-morning. Andy Clark, store manager, said that his store also opened at midnight.

“It’s going really well – as good as last year,” Clark said. “I didn’t think it was going to be as busy because a lot of stores didn’t open.”

A manager at the Brooks Brothers Factory Store said there was a line of some 25 people waiting for the store to open at midnight. Tommy Hilfiger, which offered storewide 50 percent markdowns, was also busy at mid-morning.

Terri Beam, who works at Nordica Theater, sat at a table at Freeport Village Station Friday morning running a promotion for gift cards. For every $30 spent on gift cards, people get free weekday passes, good until March 31. Beam said that business was slow.

“Now that Thanksgiving is past, hopefully it will pick up,” she said.

Susan Moran, store manager at Bass, said that stores in Freeport Village Station had the option of being open for Moonlight Madness this year. Bass chose to stay open and it paid off – in the wee hours, at least.

Bass was marking merchandise down up to 80 percent, adding another 15 percent off until 10, and 20 percent more off for people who enrolled in the company’s rewards email promotion.

“Midnight until 3 was the busiest,” Moran said. “It’s the novelty of it.”

Max Turek, 5, of Camden is dwarfed by the shopping bag full of Coach purses his mother bought last Friday at Village Station in Freeport.Clerks at The North Face on Bow Street in Freeport had all they could do at around 9:30 a.m. on Black Friday to keep up with the line of customers.Julie Ambrosino, of Bath, shopping at J. Crew Factory Store, said she sees a lot of volatility in the world of finance, but nothing has changed for her in terms of spending money for the holidays.

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