In the Valley, Black Friday quietly busy

  • Anna Joy Sullivan, an employee at new age metaphysical store AwenTree in Easthampton, writes store sales on a display board Nov. 24, 2017 during Black Friday. The store is open and honors sale prices both on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Melody Beauregard of Weare, N.H., left, and her cousin Lonnie Chu of Easthampton inspect a teapot Nov. 24, 2017 at The Vintage Cellar East in Easthampton on Black Friday. The store is open and honors sale prices both on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Jill Wray of Springfield shops for toys for her children and niece at Target in Hadley on Black Friday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Cousins Vicssel Colon of Chicopee, left, and Victor Colon of Holyoke test out a video game Nov. 24, 2017 at Target in Hadley on Black Friday. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Winifred Tannetta Costello, owner of new age metaphysical store AwenTree in Easthampton, plans with employees Nov. 24, 2017 for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday deals. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Ornaments on display at The Vintage Cellar East in Easthampton on Black Friday. The store is open and honors sale prices both on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

Friday, November 24, 2017

NORTHAMPTON, EASTHAMPTON, HADLEY — Mad shopping rushes at midnight, hordes of shoppers descending on stores in search of coveted deals, fights over items.

These are some of the scenes that come to mind about Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the biggest shopping days in the United States.

By contrast, Black Friday morning in Northampton presented a quiet scene. Despite free parking on the street and in city lots, only a scattering of people were out and about at 9 a.m.

One of the people out early was Nancy Hayes Clune, who was looking to buy card games at A2Z Science & Learning Store.

“I like to support local business,” Clune said.

The relative quiet likely had a lot to do with the downtown establishments themselves, a number of which have 10 a.m. Friday opening times, and did not choose to open early for Black Friday, a number that included A2Z. There were exceptions, however.

The music store Turn It Up! opened its doors one hour early at 9 a.m. Manager Josh Bean said that there is a Record Store Day every Black Friday, in which limited edition and special albums are made available exclusively in independent record stores.

“It’s mostly vinyl,” said Bean.

While this is not as big as Record Store Day in April, Bean said that Turn It Up! enjoys its fair share of Black Friday business.

“We get tons of Black Friday shoppers,” said Bean, noting that it’s because people are generally out and about doing their shopping, and that business picks up in the late morning and early afternoon.

One of the early customers, Paul Reepmeyer, visited Turn It Up! for Record Store Day. A collector of records for about 35 years, he said that he’d probably be going out Black Friday shopping if it wasn’t Record Store Day.

“But today (is for) records,’ said Reepmeyer.

Marathon Sports in Northampton opened at 9:30 a.m. for a unique Black Friday promotion. It involved a group run of 1 to 6 miles, with runners earning $5 in store credit at Marathon Sports for each mile they completed.

“About to head out very soon,” manager Danny O’Heron said.

One of the people about to head out on the store credit-garnering run was Michael Norton.

“You get a great deal,” said Norton, who does the weekly run Marathon Sports holds every Thursday. “It’s great to be a part of the community.”

Norton said that he would be running for at least six miles, and is looking to purchase some new pants.

Later that afternoon, downtown Northampton was hopping, with nary a parking space in sight.

“We usually set up two registers on Black Friday,” said Kristepher Severy, manager at Raven Used Books.

One place of high activity in the afternoon was Thornes Marketplace.

“All three of our stores are very busy today,” said Sara Beith, regional manager at Rebekah Brooks jewelry store in Northampton, which is located in Thornes. “We were busy from the very beginning of the day.”

The other two Rebekah Brooks stores are located in Cambridge and Beacon Hill.

Frank White, a sales associate at The Vault Vape & Smoke Shop in Northampton, said that business was good that day, but that it was not as high as it has been for previous Black Fridays.

“I hope tomorrow will be a little bit stronger,” said White.

Small Business Saturday

Many businesses combing Black Friday with Small Business Saturday, a campaign that encourages people to shop at small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

In addition to Black Friday, Rebekah Brooks also participates in Small Business Saturday. Beith said that while the store does good business on each day, Black Friday in recent years has supplanted Small Business Saturday as the better sales day.

A business whose participation in Small Business Saturday has had an effect on its Black Friday performance is AwenTree, a new age metaphysical store in Easthampton.

Owner Winifred Tannetta Costello said that by always being open on Black Friday and promoting Small Business Saturday, her Black Friday sales have grown over the years.

“That was kind of an unexpected gain,” she said.

AwenTree honors the same sale prices on both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Another Easthampton business that has the same sale policy this year for both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday is Vintage Cellar East, which is offering discounts on all items in the store both days.

“We’re hoping to get new people in,” said Wendy Sheldon, vendor/employee at Vintage Cellar East.

Sheldon said that Black Friday had been a bit slow, but that the business expects Small Business Saturday to be better.

“Most people go to the malls (for Black Friday),” said Sheldon.

An Easthampton business that has decided to dedicate most of its promotional resources to Small Business Saturday is the Eastworks Holiday Shop, although it did mention Black Friday on social media.

“It’s really a box store (thing),” Beth McElhiney said, who runs the Holiday Shop.

The shop is a pop-up that is open from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, and features the work of 26 local vendors and artists, most of whom are based in the Eastworks building.

Hampshire Mall

The Hampshire Mall is at the epicenter of what many would consider to be the archetypal Black Friday experience in Hampshire County. A number of stores opened just after midnight and Friday afternoon saw the parking lot filled with a healthy number of cars.

Dick’s Sporting Goods opened its doors at 12:01 a.m.

“It was a quiet night,” said Fausto Lamboy, assistant store manager.

He attributed this to many people choosing to do their shopping at home, and he said that he didn’t think sales were where they were supposed to be.

“I like their product,” said Nick Mogelinski, on why he chose to visit Dick’s for Black Friday with his girlfriend, Megan Duga.

Adrian Dennis, a manager at the Target in the Hampshire Mall, which opened at 6 a.m. for Black Friday, said the store was on target to make its sales goals, and that the day is still important for Target, even in the face of internet sales.

“This is still one of our busiest days,” he said.

One Target shopper, Christel Parent, 26, was Black Friday shopping for the first time in the hunt for deals on electronics.

“This is the first year I really needed them,” she said.

Parent was supposed to go out at midnight, but slept through the midnight openings.

Vincent Sarno and Rachael Otto, also in Target, said that they went out for Black Friday later on in order to avoid the crowds.

“Still doesn’t work,” said Sarno.

Michele Wojtowicz does Black Friday shopping as a tradition, and she shopped at J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart and Dick’s following their openings shortly after midnight.

“Looking for what we couldn’t find yesterday,” said Wojtowicz, on why she found herself in Target that afternoon, before she noted that the shopping had actually been earlier in the day.

She said that the best deal she’d found so far was computer gaming chairs for $99 at Staples.