Gifts roll out, green rolls in on Black Friday
The traditional rush through the doors of stores at three or four in the morning is what everyone always sees on the television news over the Turkey Day weekend.
But what goes into that happening is a lot more of a story than one might suppose.
"We start planning on Black Friday six months before it actually happens," said Wayne Clausing, the manager of the local Sutherlands Lumber and Hardware store. "In fact I watch for items that we can sell on Black Friday all year long and when I get a good deal we put them in the storeroom and they stay there until Thanksgiving."
So while most people are thinking about planting flowers and going camping in the mountains to get away from the heat, store managers are out looking for items that will bring people into their stores early on a frosty morning in November.
Purchasing is one thing, but logistics is another. The planning end caps and free standing displays goes on for a month before the Thanksgiving holiday. And the stores employees start to build those the week before.
Then there are the surprises that come up.
"The first year we opened for Black Friday at four in the morning there was snow on the ground and it was very cold," said Clausing. "I didn't bring in the lumber yard crew that morning because I didn't think anyone would want to buy 2-by-4s that early in the morning in the cold. I was wrong."
And then there is getting up early the morning of the sale. To get the store prepared for the onslaught, workers start arriving before 3 a.m. Even at that point there are vehicles idling in the parking lot keeping the occupant shoppers warm until the doors of the store open.
Still on Friday the crew at Sutherlands looked happy and cheerful. In between sipping beverages and eating some donuts, they were getting ready for one of the biggest shopping days of the year. On the main isle of the store there were some real buys. Low priced video games and some electronic tablets were some of the best bargains.
To handle the extra crowds the crew set up an extra check stand across the aisle from the paint counter.
And everyone on the crew was there.
"I expect everyone to work today," said Clausing. "My staff gets here about 3 a.m. and are expected to stay until 7 p.m. tonight when we close. It's a long day."
Finally after checking merchandise, setting up extra displays and making sure donuts are at the front entrance for shoppers it is almost opening time. A couple of shoppers tell the staff member who is opening the door that it is 4 a.m.
"It isn't quite yet," Clausing tells him. "We have 15 seconds to go."
Clausing said one year he opened a few minutes early because it was so cold outside and he felt sorry for those outside. He heard about doing that from some shoppers who complained that all the good deals were gone before they got there because of that couple of minutes.
"I won't ever do that again," he said.
Finally the doors opened and people began to rush in. Some it seemed had real strategic plans. One couple walked in and the woman said "you get a shopping basket and I will head down to the end. Then work your way down to where I am."
Others sped off right to where they suspected the deal of the day that they wanted would be. Only a few stopped to get a free donut and coffee that was near the east wall where the administrative offices are.
All kinds of things could be heard as people dug through the displays. However, unlike what is often heard in reports about the Black Friday rush and is sometimes told in the media it didn't appear that anyone was being rude to anyone else.
An orderly affair
It was an orderly Carbon County Black Friday at Sutherlands, despite everyone's lack of sleep.
"I got just what I wanted," said one woman. "This is a great deal."
Beyond the lead items that sat in the main aisle, many shoppers came in to get the general saving that was effective until 7 a.m. That was 20 percent off everything in the store. People were looking through the floor tile area, in the electrical section and even a few had wandered down to the garden aisle, thinking about next summer's work, when Clausing will be planning next years Black Friday sale.
"I love this sale," said Clausing. "It is going to be a good day."