NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – When a lot of us think about the Black Friday shopping experience, we think about big crowds of people trampling their way through the doors of stores to get good deals before anyone else can snag their coveted prize. Shoppers who turned out for the early open hours at the Fashion Outlets Friday morning enjoyed a much more relaxed experience.
“I was surprised, but pleased,” said Tina Freeney, a shopper from Buffalo, when asked about the relatively small crowds at the mall at opening time.
A lot of people who turned out ready to face the crowds Friday morning had that same reaction. “Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this,” said first time Black Friday shopper Venus Johnson. “I thought there were going to be a lot of people, a lot of pushing, shoving. But it’s really not that bad.”
Bigger crowds came through Thursday evening when a lot of the stores at the Fashion Outlets opened for Thanksgiving sales.
That took some of the usual edge of the typical Black Friday morning rush, creating a nice bonus for a lot of people who came from as far away as Toronto for the early open hours Friday.
“I got through the border in absolutely no time. Got here and couldn’t believe that the parking lot wasn’t full,” said one shopper from Toronto, Leanne Elnicki. “It’s a bit shocking actually. I thought it was a bit nuttier than this.”
Even without the frenzied feeling of years past, store managers say business has still been coming in at a good, steady pace. “It’s been great. It’s been awesome. We’ve had a lot of great sales. Lots of people through the door. Phenomenal, phenomenal business,” said Doreen Poole, the manager at the Columbia store.
Still, at least some people are disappointed that the experience has changed as deals last through the weekend and beyond. “The hype was fun,” said Amherst resident Linda Stonish. “We had a great time doing that. And now it’s it’s just – we ordered stuff online, like Best Buy and the bigger stores, then came to the mall to knock around.”
Those who did come out to the mall Friday found good deals waiting for them, like usual.
“We’ve been to the Levi outlet, and we’ve been to True Religion, and we’ve been to the Nike store,” said Tonawanda resident Shawn Green.
“And we spent a million dollars,” she added, laughing.
Green said her goal was to finish her holiday shopping for her son before she left the mall.
And now, everyone can get some help with their Christmas shopping lists. Santa made his first appearance of the season at the Fashion Outlets at 10 a.m. Friday. He’ll be taking requests through Christmas Eve.