Bracing for Black Friday
Businesses get ready for hordes of shoppers on Black Friday, and beyond.
Driving by the Best Buy on York Road in Lutherville late Thursday, you may see some people milling about in the parking lot. They aren't braving the cold for a free turkey giveaway. No, they're lining up to snag some good deals—a day in advance of the sales.
Like many other area retailers, Best Buy opens early today for one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday. And as Mike Jenkins, manager of the Lutherville Best Buy, confirmed, consumers hungry for a good deal typically camp out well in advance of the store's 5 a.m. opening.
"Some people spend the night in the parking lot, getting there well before sundown on Thanksgiving," Jenkins said.
As consumers prepare to get a jump start on their holiday shopping, area retailers say they're ready to handle the masses.
For those who campout at Best Buy, the store's management will have the bare necessities on hand; namely, coffee and portable restrooms.
"We walk the line, talking to customers," Jenkins said. Customers who managed to drift off to sleep may have been dreaming of Best Buy's hot-ticket Black Friday items, like netbooks for $149, 46, LED televisions bundled with Blu-ray players for $999 and select cell phones for $1.00.
At Towson Town Center, some eager shoppers won't have to wait until the doors swing open at 6 a.m.; some select mall retailers will at midnight. It's a new strategy the mall's owner, General Growth Properties, is testing this year.
To handle the hordes of shoppers, Charles Crerand, Towson Town Center's general manager, says the mall hires additional off-duty police to direct the flow of traffic in the parking lot. He also urges mall shoppers to use common sense this Black Friday.
"Be aware of where you park; know the letter and level of the garage, and keep an eye on your belongings," Crerand said.
Shoppers who don't want to hunt for a space in the parking garages can park anywhere in downtown Towson—for free—during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
On Black Friday only, the mall will be offering a perk to shoppers who spend liberally. Purchase a minimum of $100 at Towson Town Center on Black Friday and redeem a $10 gift certificate good for anywhere in the mall. Gift certificates can be obtained from a customer service kiosk in the food court.
The Towson Chamber of Commerce has big plans to lure shoppers to downtown Towson well beyond Black Friday. It's spending $25,000—$10,000 from a county grant and $15,000 of its own money—to create a month-long series of events in downtown Towson, from a Christmas tree lighting to "Ho Ho" happy hours. The chamber also plans to turn the downtown area into a festive atmosphere throughout December, with ice sculptures gracing the sidewalks and fire pits roasting s'mores for the public.
"People don't want to just go into malls. They want to walk around in the cool air," said Nancy Hafford, the chamber's executive director.