Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 21, 2012

Area retailers prepare for droves of customers seeking Black Friday buys

By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Though some local retailers will be opening earlier than ever for Black Friday sales, others have opted to scale back their Black Friday hours for both the public and their employees.

Steve Warf, manager for J.C. Penney’s at the Mercer Mall, said store employees began preparing Monday for the big sale, but said the store will not be opening as early as others in the region.

“We are going to be opening at 6 a.m. and staying open until 11 p.m. Friday,” Warf said. “We are giving our associates that time, so we aren’t opening late on Thursday or early on Friday morning. We think it is very important for them to be home with their families.”

In addition to having all employees on deck, Warf said the store has a new Black Friday incentive that will give shoppers a chance to win additional holiday prizes.

“What we are doing is we have buttons with little small features on them like a snowman or Santa Claus,” Warf said. “We will give the buttons out to each customer and if they register within a day, they have a chance to win from hundreds of trips as well as percentages off on items in the store. Approximately one in four customers can win.”

Warf said there are many items he is expecting to sell well on Black Friday.

“We have a nice selection of women’s boots on sale, women’s coats, and anything that is not in our circular that will be out Friday will be on sale in the store,” he said. “We do have some small appliances on sale for $8 including a slow cooker, a griddle, a waffle maker, a hand griddle and others. Fine jewelry is always a big deal as well. There are also a lot of toys on sale.”

However, other stores at the Mercer Mall will be opening early. Brad Banks, store manager of Hibbett Sports at Mercer Mall, said the store will be having sales all week and will be opening at midnight for Black Friday shoppers.

“Our Black Friday will actually start Wednesday and will run through Sunday,” Banks said. “We will have sales on shoes, West Virginia Mountaineer apparel and some of our Nike apparel, and select sock brands. We will be opening at midnight for Black Friday and some of the bigger stores like Belk, Sears, Radio Shack and quite a few of the other mall stores will be opening then. We do really well that day. We are one of the top stores in our district for Black Friday.”

Banks said the store has been preparing staff and setting up stock all week in preparation.

“We are getting the staff ready and excited for the holiday season,” Banks said. “It is a pretty big season for us, and we want customers to be greeted by smiling faces and have a good experience. Our trucks have been bringing in goods since mid-October and we will be putting everything out on the floor so we don’t have to keep going to the back room.”

Other stores aren’t waiting until Black Friday to start their sales. Miki Radojcic, assistant manager of Kmart in Bluefield, said Kmart will be open on Thanksgiving Day for shoppers to get an early start on finding holiday gifts.

“We are doing a lot of things to avoid conflict between customers,” Radojcic said. “We will have tickets available at the front for items with limited availability like big TVs. We are opening Thanksgiving morning from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. then from 8 p.m. until 3 a.m. that night. We will open Friday morning from 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. for our sale.”

Radojcic said store employees have been preparing in advance to make sure things stay organized during the Black Friday frenzy.

“We have been having meetings every morning to tell the associates what to do,” Radojcic said. “We typically have hundreds of customers at the front of the store, and we are staffing the front of the store to make sure check out is going smoothly. Our associates will be carrying walkie-talkies to make sure everyone can communicate what is going on. We are getting all of the items out of the back and stocking them up ahead of time.”

Radojcic said keeping things moving and calm helps shoppers get the items they are looking for.

“We have everyone working in the store to handle the crowd,” Radojcic said. “We want to make sure everything is consistent and people are able to get what they want. It’s always a big deal, so we have to be prepared. We have crazy deals this year, so we are expecting a lot of people. Pretty much the entire store is on sale, and we are ready for the big crowds.”

Liquor stores across Virginia will also be providing holiday deals on Black Friday. Officials with Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control stores said approximately 340 stores will be offering discounts on selected items, including miniature bottles and top-shelf specialty products.

Shoppers will also receive 10 percent off if their purchase is more than $50. The liquor stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in most areas.

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com´┐Ż