Stores take ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach anticipating deal hunters
Customers flooded Dickinson stores Thursday night and throughout the day Friday, hunting for deals and officially kicking off the holiday shopping season. Yet, store managers in a city known for having employee shortcomings said they were able to keep pace well, despite hectic instances. “This is our all-hands-on-deck thing,” Herbergers store manager Sarah Molnar said. “This is our year right here. So basically, we’re all here.”
Herbergers was the first retail store other than Walmart to open on Thanksgiving Day, starting its deals at 6 p.m. It stayed open through the night and, by 3 p.m. Friday, still had customers waiting in long lines at service counters waiting to pay for the deals they’d discovered.
“The customers have been wonderful,” Molnar said. “Everybody is OK with waiting in line — it’s Black Friday.”
At Menards, general manager Mark Kerr said he was pleased with the consistent customer fl ow the store had seen since it opened at 6 a.m. Friday.
“It’s been steady all day,” Kerr said. “It’s kind of unique. Usually, it’s a mad rush in the morning, then it kind of dies off.”
He credited the Internet with making customers smarter shoppers around the holidays.
“They’re pretty savvy when they walk in the door,” he said. “They know what they want. … It makes it pretty easy for us, actually.”
But while Herbergers and Menards are well known for experiencing the Black Friday customer rush, smaller stores in Dickinson said they see benefits too.
Millie Wagner, manager of Riddle’s Jewelry in the Prairie Hills Mall, said the store’s advertising fl yer for a three-day sale contributed to a majority of its business Friday.
“I got here at noon because I’m working the night shift, but people were just flooding in — mostly for the specials — but there’s a lot of guys coming in too, trying to get this done so they can enjoy the holiday season,” Wagner said.
The longtime manager said she tries to make Black Friday a fun experience for her employees. This year, she brought in a full meal for them.
“It’s a fun day,” she said. “It really is.”
Next door at AT&T, retail sales manager Yohanna Deniz said her store had steady traffic from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday with few slowdowns. She said many customers came in to buy new phones and tablets for themselves or as gifts.
Black Friday represented an uptick in sales for the store, Deniz said, adding she noticed most customers intentionally didn’t come in earlier in the week, instead waiting for the weekend blitz.
“People are trying to save up for that Christmas deal,” Deniz said. “We’ve been slow the last couple of days, then to see some traffic, it’s definitely helped our store out.”
While some businesses think of the holidays as a way to stay financially “in the black,” others like Bolivar Burga’s pop-up shop, Atahualapa, at the Prairie Hills Mall, are set up almost specifically for the holidays. His shop sells Ecuadorian scarves and cold-weather wear. “We have warm clothes and, of course, we have a lot of snow, so I think it’s a good idea,” Burga said. He said while the morning was slow for him, business picked up in the afternoon as shoppers began trending away from store-specific shopping. “People were maybe waiting to have lunch and then go shopping,” he said with a smile. At Ace Hardware in the T-Rex Plaza, manager Ryan Miller said his store experienced an initial rush of customers at 7 a.m. when it opened and had ebbs and flows throughout the day.
Last year, the store opened at 5 a.m. for deal-hunters willing to go to the extreme to save cash.
“We decided 7 o’clock is plenty early,” Miller said. “We’re not really here for that anyway. We’re here for customer service, not mind-blowingly cheap sales.”