1A Stores make plans for early shoppers

By Jeff Kiger

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN


That is the color the sky will be when after-Thanksgiving shoppers start lining up on the biggest shopping day of the year — Black Friday.

No matter that the retail forecast for this holiday season is not great, a quick survey of some of Rochester’s stores shows they are still looking to attract those early-morning shoppers Friday.


James McKinley will start his day well before sunrise as he opens the doors of J.C. Penney in Apache Mall at 4 a.m. for the second year in a row.

Do people line up that early?

"Oh yes. When we opened at 4 a.m. last year, I held the door open for a half an hour for the whole line to go through," he said.

Following its holiday tradition, the store will hand out "a couple thousand" free Disney snow globes to early shoppers. McKinley says the globe supply usually lasts for about three hours.

Penneys won’t be the lone store open that early. Herberger’s, also in the mall, and Kohl’s in the Broadway Commons retail center will unlock the doors when the clock ticks past 3:59 a.m.

The Toys R Us/ Babies R Us store just east of Apache Mall will let in its expected crowd at 5 a.m.

Wal-Mart will hand out maps to its early shoppers to help their unique "opening" run smoothly.

The stores on Rochester’s north and south sides will be open 24/7 as usual, but when the clock strikes 5 a.m., employees will slash open pallets of holiday sale items that have been wrapped in plastic.


"We want to communicate to them where the merchandise they are looking for is. And if we have a limited amount of an item, we’ll let them know that to prevent problems," says North Wal-Mart Manager Tony Talbot. "Safety is a priority."

Renee Nordhus, co-owner of ABC Toy Zone in the Miracle Mile Shopping Center, has a different priority.

As more of a specialty or niche toy retailer, she sees a spike in business on Black Friday, but not to the extent the Big Boxes do. The weekend sales will probably be the big days.

So don’t expect Toy Zone’s door to open until 9 a.m. Friday.

"We figure most people will be out in line at places like Best Buy," she said. "And this way, I can get my shopping done before we open."

Page A2: Early hours are standard.

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