St. Thomas retail stores that spoke to the Source on Friday reported a positive start to the holiday shopping season, saying Black Friday’s massive price slashing drew large crowds without any of the brawls or disorder that have become all too common on the nation’s largest shopping day.
“We had a great crowd this morning,” said Kmart Tutu Park Store Manager Brenda Burrows.
Burrows said shoppers were lined up outside Kmart’s doors when the store opened at 5 a.m Friday, two hours earlier than Kmart’s normal opening time.
Around noon on Friday Kmart’s aisles were still jammed with shopping carts piled high with electronics, clothing and household items that the store was selling for as much as 60 percent off. The bulk of the store’s employees were working Friday, hustling to keep shelves neatly stocked.
Burrows said sales were high enough Friday morning that the store decided to extend some deals scheduled to end at noon until the store’s closing at 11 p.m. Some sales will continue until closing on Saturday, she added.
“According to our sales readings, everything’s been awesome today,” Burrows said. “We have some new items on sale this season like smart televisions that have been a good draw for local shoppers.”
Down the hill from Kmart at OfficeMax, shoppers inspected computers, printers, desks and office chairs being sold for prices that offered hundreds of dollars in savings.
Store manager Pam Beaman said OfficeMax had a head start, beginning its sales on Thursday evening. According to Beaman, much of the store’s Black Friday business had actually been done during the previous night.
“We were open for three hours on Thanksgiving, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and we were sold out of all of our front page deals, except for one laptop, by 9 p.m,” she said.
The St. Thomas OfficeMax achieved Black Friday sales that compared favorably to the rest of the company, Beaman said. By the afternoon, she said things had begun to slow down and were becoming more manageable for employees after a “very busy” morning.
Home Depot was another store whose sales were drawing shoppers on Friday, featuring a four-day sale on appliances including refrigerators, washing machines and ovens.
Home Depot also offered sales on smaller gift items, and was stocked with evergreen trees and potted poinsettias, lending the home repair store a festive air.
While the island’s Big Box stores appeared to draw the bulk of Black Friday’s business, smaller retailers were also able to get in on the holiday shopping action.
Local businessman Ibrahim Asfour, who owns two Asfour stores on St. Thomas, one downtown and one at Tutu Mall, said he was offering a “buy one, get one for a penny” sale at both locations that was bringing in increased business on Friday.
“It’s been a really good day,” Asfour said.