With shoppers hitting the stores earlier than ever, the morning of Black Friday just isn't the melee that it used to be, according to local shoppers and business owners.
"What we have found with the stores opening sooner is that we just don't get the early rush anymore," Pam Edgar, co-owner of Country Crafts from the Heart located in the Fort Steuben Mall, said Friday morning. "People are out shopping at midnight, so by morning they're too tired. Around midday people seem to get their second breath, though."
Zachary Brooks of Weirton is an associate at Spencer's Gifts and he described a similar ebb in the number of customers.
SHOPPING?EARLY — Stephanie and Chase Holly of Bethel Park, Pa. shopped at Silhouette Scarves in The Fort Steuben Mall this morning. “We left at 3:15 this morning,” Stephanie said. “We’ve been having fun with it.” Julie Krupinski and Laura Bolitho had been manning the store since 10:30 p.m. last night. -- Shae Dalrymple
"It was a lot busier last year," he said. "I was here when we opened at midnight, and there were about 15 to 20 people."
Stephanie Holly of Bethel Park, Pa., and her son, Chase, enjoyed shopping with friends during the wee hours despite a smaller turn out.
"I come out on Black Friday every year for Christmas shopping," Holly said. "We found a lot of good sweatshirts on sale at Dick's. I think that was my favorite deal so far."
Natalie Robinson of Bloomingdale, Ohio, and her son, Jordan, accompanied the Hollys to experience their first Black Friday ever.
"I'm finding everything I came out for, so it's been good," Robinson said.
Sheila Ramsey and Amber Travis of Wintersville arrived to work at Hickory Farms at 6 a.m.
"It's not as busy as we expected," Ramsey said. "It's a little early for Hickory Farms though. It will pick up later for sure."
Some customers were disappointed with how calm the mall atmosphere was this morning. Deborah Fields of Indianapolis is visiting her family, including Samantha and Jody Hunter of Steubenville, and she misses the thrill.
"It sucks!" Fields said. "This is a tradition that we do every year, and they took it away from us. They finally ruined the tradition of Black Friday."
"We found a parking spot at Wal-Mart; that's when you know it's bad," Samantha Hunter added.
"We could have come out yesterday, but that's time to spend at home with family," Fields said. "Retail workers only get Thanksgiving and Christmas off. They took away Thanksgiving for the workers and Black Friday for the customers."
Erica Mueller of Toronto is an associate at JC Penney, and she did not seem to mind working.
"I'm exhausted, but it's been kind of fun," she said. "When you get hired in retail you know that you're going to have to work on Black Friday. It just goes along with the job."
The number of deal-hunters at the mall is expected to increase throughout the day.
(Dalrymple can be contacted at email@example.com)