The Valdosta Daily Times
Shopkeepers and holiday shoppers alike have been raving about Lowndes County’s midnight start time of the retail sector’s biggest day, with some participants describing their Black Friday experiences as euphoric and rewarding.
Many national retailers opened their doors to Black Friday shoppers at midnight, effectively forcing small and mid-sized outlets to follow suit in the make or break day for retailers. Store owner Joanna Jones of Envy Boutiques admitted to missing a little sleep and being slightly delirious, but she seemed unable to stop beaming as customers cycled in and out of her shop.
“It was the excitement of not knowing how the midnight opening was going to be,” said Jones when asked about her pre-game jitters. “When I pulled into the parking lot, it was unbelievable. For about three and a half solid hours, the store stayed packed.”
On the opposite end of the Valdosta Mall, store owner Todd Jones, Joanna’s spouse, said the midnight start time was just as much of an unknown for his Dallas Wayne Boot Company shop. He said he didn’t grasp quite how big the first rush would be until he received an urgent message from his wife.
“Each year, it seems as if we start earlier and earlier and we never quite know what to expect,” said Jones. “My wife called me at 11:30 (p.m.). She told me to get down here and bring all the help I can get.”
Five-year Black Friday veteran Dorothy Miller said she and her daughter didn’t start at midnight, but that they’d been cornering deals before the sun rose Friday.
“We started in Douglas and ended up in Valdosta,” said Miller. “We didn’t bring a list. We’re just looking for the best deals around.”
Kyle Jacobs said he and his family didn’t start shopping until sometime after nine. He said the bunch had run a winding circuit of retailers, both in the mall and outside, but stated that they were merely looking for bargains on practical goods.
“We’re just out to see what good sales were going on,” said Jacobs. “We’re not doing too much holiday shopping. We’re shopping for clothes and other things for our kids.”
The Valdosta Mall’s Marketing and Specialty Leasing Manager Enid Santana said the midnight kick-off went better than expected for mall management. With just a few hours of R.E.M. sleep herself, she stated her elation in the commerce around her as more shoppers headed in around noon.
“We haven’t had any major issues so far,” said Santana. “We prepared for the worst but it turned out for the best.”
The rush continues today with Small Business Saturday, and Joanna Jones hopes citizens respond well to the three-year-old holiday for small retailers.
“I'm hoping today’s momentum carries over into tomorrow,” said Jones Friday.