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November 30, 2013

Black Friday shoppers pack stores

By Mark Boshnack Staff writer
The Daily Star

---- — Merchants and shoppers interviewed in Oneonta on Black Friday were generally upbeat about the start of the holiday season.

For nearly a decade, Black Friday was the official start of the shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The name refers to retailers turning a profit, or moving out of the red and into the black, as retailers open early and offer deep discounts.

But in the past few years, store chains have been opening on Thanksgiving.

Cathy Treffeisen of Sidney was walking to her car in the Southside Mall parking lot after shopping at TJ Maxx. She said she spent Thanksgiving at home.

“Usually we don’t do Black Friday,” she said. But she started the day at Kmart in Sidney, which was “packed.” She found the crowd at the mall more to her liking. Her husband owns a mechanical contracting business in Oneonta and business is good, but she said spending will probably be about the same as previous years.

Inside the mall, Jennifer Voorhies, a monitor at Walton Central School, was walking near JCPenney. She said she didn’t start shopping until about 11 a.m. After going to some downtown consignment shops, she was at TJ Maxx and JCPenney.

“The sales haven’t been that great” and she was not looking for anything in particular, she said. The season will be about the same as last year, she said, adding: “I do a lot online.”

Randy Francisco of Otego is a Verizon repairman. His shopping started yesterday in Walmart, where he was from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m.

“The bargains were excellent,” on purchases for electronics for the kids, among other items, he said. He said he was back shopping at JCPenney and Bath & Body Works on Friday, and expects to be finished Christmas Eve. “There are always last-minute things you need.”

In downtown Oneonta, McLaughlin’s Department Store manager Peggy Wells said business has been about the same as last year.

“We are expecting a good season,” with the line of Pandora jewelry helping to bring people in, she said. In the last six months, she said, she has noticed a pickup in business.

Darlene Kessler of Laurens, a barista at Starbucks, was shopping in the store Friday. She started at about 1 p.m. Thursday to avoid the crowds, looking for apparel for her daughter. She said she plans on spending about the same as last year during the season.

Kathy Verrelli is the co-owner of Theresa’s Emporium, which opened at its new location on Main Street earlier this month. Business was busy Friday, with people starting to come in starting around noon, she said.

“It seems like a good season,” for the store, which sells an assortment of items including, housewares, candles and fudge, she said.

One of those shopping Friday was Heather Marzano of Jersey City, originally from Otego. She is a real estate developer visiting her mother for Thanksgiving. She started shopping Friday and was just browsing. The mall will be her last stop, but she prefers the selection and atmosphere that she finds downtown, she said.

This is the 39th season for Razzle Dazzle, owner Debra North said.

“I think I am doing a little better than last year,” she said, but with the season a week shorter, she was not sure what to expect.

“People seem to be upbeat — I am seeing a lot of my old customers,” at the store, which offers an eclectic mix for housewares, gifts and children’s toys, she said.

One of those shopping in the store was Hartwick chemistry professor Susan Young, who said she was downtown because she wanted to support local businesses. She expects it will be a better year economically, she said, but her spending on educational toys and the work of local artists will be about the same.