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Economy prompts many to brave Black Friday
Shoppers seeking deals in area stores
BF Sears 1
Mark Seiler, left, and his son Adam Seiler look at washers and dryers on sale Friday at the Sears Hometown Store in Hinesville. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge

Black Friday trivia

• The term “Black Friday,” regarding shopping, was coined in 1966 by Philadelphia police, who had a tough time controlling Center City, Philadelphia’s shopping district, the day after Thanksgiving.
• In 2007, 135 million people participated in Black Friday shopping, more than turned out to vote in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
• On Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, a worker at a Wal-Mart in New York was trampled to death by shoppers who broke through the store’s doors minutes before it opened at 5 a.m.


With the economy in sad shape, store owners and deal seekers alike seemed to realize the importance of this year’s Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season.
Budget-conscious bargain hunters flocked to Liberty County shops on the day after Thanksgiving and, for the most part, retailers had plenty to offer.
Many area stores, like Sears Hometown Store at 103 B Gen. Screven Way in Hinesville, opened early to accommodate the expected crowds.
“We opened at 4 o’clock this morning,” said store owner Julio Rodriguez. “We’ve been busy all day.”
Rodriguez said promoting Friday’s big sale paid off. Many of his customers came into the store with ad inserts in hand. Shoppers mostly bought washers and dryers, TVs, refrigerators and tools, according to Rodriguez, who became owner of the Sears store in May of this year.
Adam Seiler and his father Mark Seiler carefully examined washers and dryers on sale at Rodriguez’s store. Adam Seiler said he’s been waiting for several months for a sale like this.
“We got rid of our old ones and came in to buy a new set,” he said.
Seiler said he is keeping to a budget, but that hasn’t stopped him from buying DVDs and other electronics to give as gifts.
“It’s what everybody wants this year,” Seiler said.
Yvonne Santaella saw the Sears sale advertised in the local newspaper and also came in to buy a washer and dryer.
Santaella said she budgets for gifts each year, but hasn’t really cut back on spending this year.
“We are blessed,” she said of her family’s healthy financial state.
Bath & Body Works at 755 W. Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville experienced a steady flow of customers Friday.
“Everybody is behind the promotions this year,” said store manager Shcoby Griffin. “It is noticeably slower than last year (Black Friday), but we’re having a good day.
“It’s all about the bargain shoppers this year,” Griffin continued with a smile. “Our company understands what customers are looking for.”
Griffin said some customers have told her they are choosing to “beat the lines” and shop online. 
Most chain stores, such as Bath & Body, have Web sites where customers may shop online and some offer free shipping. 
“Our (Black Friday) event isn’t a one-day event,” Griffin added. “It goes through the whole weekend. We won’t know how well we do until we’re done on Sunday night when we close.”
Efficient shopper Rebecca Burns finished the last of her holiday shopping at Bath & Body Works on Friday.
“I’m buying for family and co-workers,” she said. “I’m done with my shopping. I’ve got all my grandkids their gifts.”
Wal-Mart in Hinesville welcomed a steady stream of shoppers for Black Friday. The store’s electronics department was especially packed with bargain hunters.
Cyrus Henderson of Midway shopped for a wide-screen TV. He said he and his family of two budgeted $1,000 for Christmas gifts this year.
“I waited until they went on sale,” Henderson said. He said he priced televisions around town before deciding which one to buy.
Small business owners also enjoyed a post-Thanksgiving boost.
“It’s been going well,” said Vivian Smith, owner of $20 and Below Accessories, LLC in downtown Hinesville.
Smith’s store, filled with reasonably priced gifts like wine bottle stoppers and cheese knife sets, and fashion extras such as jewelry, watches, scarves, belts, ties and purses, is at 106 W. M.L. King Drive, across from the new justice center.
Smith credits the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority for helping small businesses like hers get off to a good start this holiday shopping season, especially with so many people spending less on gifts this year.
“The events downtown, like our open houses, have helped tremendously,” she said.
Smith, who opened her store in April, said along with a good bargain, shoppers also look for personable customer service.
“Without the customer, we wouldn’t exist.”

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