Black Friday draws hundreds

Mary Helen Ritchie, who usually works in the Rural King's agriculture department, filled in as an emergency cashier Friday to help the store try to keep up with the flood of customers as she checks out Michelle Dugan and Thomas Polk of Winchester. Nathan Budryk/Daily

Even before most area residents had awoken from their turkey-induced coma Friday, another annual tradition had begun – Black Friday. While the shopping holiday has become less prevalent in recent years, there was no shortage of bargain hunters around the area.

Some do it with family still in town; others take part to simply try to get good deals on holiday gifts for family and friends. Regardless of the reason, Black Friday means the countdown to Christmas is officially on.

Crowds at Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester started gathering as early as Thursday afternoon, said Tara McInturff, director of mall marketing.

“The mall opened last night at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and the mall was packed from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. when we closed,” she said. “JC Penney actually opened at 3 p.m. and they had hundreds of people outside waiting to get in and Belk opened at 4 o’clock.”

McInturff said she saw lots of families in the mall.

Customers of the Rural King in Front Royal wait in line to look at guns on Black Friday Nathan Budryk/Daily

“Shopping is a form of entertainment and we think the people ate dinner and wanted to get out and shop after their turkey dinner,” she said. “We’ve had lots of families out here shopping together and having fun.”

McInturff said that this year’s Black Friday (and Thursday) turnout was as high as she’s ever seen. She said that after the mall opened Friday things really started picking up in the late morning.

“I would say at about 11:30 today it started picking back up,” she said. “It’s been busy since 11:30. Customers are shopping, carrying lots of bags from the stores, and we actually had a hot chocolate station set up and people have been taking advantage of that.”

She also said that the mall’s anchor stores such as Belk and J.C. Penney offered significant deals to the first few shoppers, and once they shopped at those larger stores, they continued into the mall’s other stores.

Angie Cooke, of Berryville, was shopping in the mall after making several other stops elsewhere.

Dozens of Black Friday shoppers wait in line to check out at Rural King in Front Royal on Friday. Nathan Budryk/Daily

“We just got to the mall,” she said. “(We went to) Kohl’s, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Best Buy and then here.”

Cooke said that post-Thanksgiving shopping with family and friends is a tradition for her.

“There’s four of us that get together,” she said. “I’m just shopping, getting all my Christmas shopping done. I get all my Christmas presents on Black Friday. I found a lot of clothes.”

The crowds at Rural King in Front Royal offered more of the same, as hundreds flocked to the retailer that specializes in outdoors equipment, farm supplies and a range of other products.

Shaun Amrine, the store’s general manager said with large crowds, there are going to be lines.

“There’s nothing you can do,” she said.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.