November 24, 2018

‘Staying home was not an option’: Shoppers hit the aisles for Black Friday deals (Tulsa World) »

Black Friday doesn’t stop for cool temperatures and drizzle.

And it certainly doesn’t stop for oral surgery recovery.

“Black Friday doesn’t stop for anybody,” said Ashlyn Waters. “Staying home was not an option.”

Waters was waiting outside Brookside’s Lululemon on Friday morning with her body wrapped in a blanket and her mouth wrapped in ice packs.

The Owasso High School junior had her wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday and wasn’t about to let that keep her from shopping with her mom and grandmother, a tradition they have upheld for years.

“We used to do all-nighters. Now we just do the important stores,” said Lynne Curtis, Waters’ grandmother, who goes by “Grammy,” or just “Gram,” now that the kids are older.

Nearly 116 million shoppers were expected to be at stores across the country on Friday, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

As many as 164 million people are expected to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the weekend, according to the survey.

About 65 percent of shoppers say they are doing it for the deals, while 26 percent say it’s a tradition.

For Sydney Boyd, it’s both.

She shopped with her cousins and best friend on Thursday night until about midnight and was up at 6 a.m. to resume on Friday.

“We have a shopping addiction,” she joked. “I love the rush of Black Friday. They open the store and you sprint in and go and grab everything in your size and go to the dressing room and sort it out.”

Black Friday is the top retail day of year for Oklahoma-owned retailers.

Oklahoma retailers see 19.1 percent of their annual revenue come in during the holidays, according to a study from software-as-service provider Womply.

Area retailers generally see a 110 percent increase in sales over the average day.

If there was a prize — other than getting first pick of all the merchandise — for being the first shopper at Utica Square, that award would go to Tia Williams.

She was at Bath and Body Works just as it opened at 6 a.m.

“I can’t miss a big deal,” Williams said.

This is only her second year to shop on Black Friday. She said that because of the savings, she plans on getting all of her holiday shopping completed this weekend.

After Bath and Body her plan was to hit Old Navy and J.C. Penney before stopping by the country’s largest retailer.

“I’m saving Walmart for last. I’m going to want to go home after that,” Williams said.

At Woodland Hills Mall, Belinda Eskridge walked from store to store with several shopping bags clasped in each hand. She arrived there with her family around 7 a.m. and intended to stay well into the afternoon.

The Broken Arrow mom takes advantage of Black Friday every year for the good deals but still ends up spending a fair amount.

But overcoming the crowds and the stress is worth it for her — and not just because of the bargains. It’s a fun family experience.

“We get to save a lot of money, and we get to have fun together,” Eskridge said. “We just enjoy it.”

That enjoyment wasn’t shared by Jeneal Parks, who waited until the afternoon to head to the mall in hopes the crowds wouldn’t be as hectic.

Parks, who lives in Stillwater but is in town for family, needed to get an ornament to carry on a tradition. Her Christmas tree is filled with 25 years of family ornaments.

Most of her Black Friday shopping, however, was done on the computer.

“It’s great that there are online options now that kept me from having to get here early,” Parks said with a laugh.

On a business level, Amber Welch was having a fantastic day as she helped customers at her store Okie Soul, which opened in Woodland a few months ago. The crowds have been plentiful, and so have the sales.

On a personal level, Welch was exhausted. She worked until 2 a.m. Friday and was back at it a few hours later.

But that’s been better than the past two weeks, when she worked 18-hour days in anticipation of the shopping holiday.

Welch — who is also the owner of Amber Marie & Co., which is located in the same mall — said a lot of people think retailers are worn out from the craziness of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Realistically, though, they’ve been busy preparing for months.

“From June until two nights ago, I am working my tail off getting things ready and getting the store good to go,” she said. “And things fall through the cracks, like having enough sacks. Like, who ordered sacks? Oh my gosh, we don’t have enough.

“Today I needed an extra cable, so I went to Walmart and they didn’t have it. There’s always those unpredictable things that’ll get you.”

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