Curtain drops on Black Friday

Businesses report hits and misses on one of the year's biggest shopping days

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Norman Rule, an employee at Murdoch's Ranch & Home Supply, came into work at 8 a.m. Friday morning expecting to see an onslaught of customers chomping at the bit to get started on one of the year's biggest shopping days -- Black Friday.

"There were a lot of people that wanted Black Friday to happen at this store," Rule said. Shoppers were clamoring for early opening hours and large discounts. "They had an awfully good idea of what they wanted to purchase.

"A lot of people were paying attention to Christmas."

Black Friday is an inside retailer description of one of the biggest shopping days of the year, the day after Thanksgiving. It's when profits of numerous retailers move from the red, representing losses, to the black, symbolizing profits.

The day also signals the beginning of the four-week, gift-buying rush leading to the holidays.

Several retailers in Craig reported hit-and-miss results on this year's Black Friday.

Bigger stores like Murdoch's and Kmart reported an increase in customer traffic and business. Although they didn't see the shopping bonanza other stores across the country were reporting, but a busier day nonetheless.

Ted Taylor, assistant store manager at Murdoch's, scheduled 22 employees in preparation for Black Friday. Everybody except the bookkeeper was working at the store, he said.

"Here in Craig it's kind of different," he said. "Some days you expect it to be busy and it's not, and then all of the sudden ... (customers) are everywhere."

Both Taylor and Rule said Murdoch's didn't get hit with a morning blitz of customers, but instead a steady flow that peaked in the early afternoon.

Kmart store manager Rod Turner couldn't get into specifics of what his store did to prepare for Black Friday. However, he reported a better turnout than expected.

"We're doing very well," he said. "We've been extremely busy, and we're exceeding all of our numbers from last year."

Smaller stores in Craig had mixed results.

Jackie Roberts, owner of Under the Aspen Tree at 13 W. Victory Way, opened her store at 6 a.m., four hours earlier than usual. She offered a progressive sale -- discounts at every hour.

All to no avail, Roberts said.

"Next to nothing," she said. "I haven't had anybody coming through ... Usually (Black Friday) is good. People are waiting."

Mary Kay Sherman, owner of The Giving Tree at 525 Yampa Ave., reported having a banner day. That is, until things literally went black on Black Friday. She said business slowed down in the early afternoon, about the same time of a power outage that lasted an hour.

"It was very busy," said Sherman, who opened at 7 a.m., three hours ahead of usual business hours. She also offered customer specials. "It started out slow, but at about 10 a.m. it started getting busy, and it stayed busy."

The National Retail Fed-

eration, one of the world's largest retail trade associations, based in Washington D.C., estimates that holiday sales would rise 5 percent this year, to $457 billion.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, was expected to be the biggest draw for many Black Friday shoppers. The store reduced prices for the most popular merchandise -- toys, electronics and home appliances.

Christina Currie, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said the varying results locally of Black Friday are typical for the area.

"Black Friday is historically one of the biggest days of the year for retail sales in Craig -- specifically for the large retailers," Currie said. "Kmart will likely post record sales, although the days leading up to Christmas will also generate high sales receipts. Smaller businesses won't see as much of an impact. Their big days generally coincide with special events and the last-minute shopping crowd."

She also said that the opening of a proposed super Wal-Mart in Craig would infuse future holiday sales in the area. The store's presence will help keep shoppers shopping in Craig and would be good for other small businesses, she said.

"I believe it will help local retailers in the push to keep dollars local," she said. "The wider selection will cater to the need for variety and hopefully get residents into other retail stores to experience the selection and customer service they offer.

"Having one in Craig has the potential to eliminate at least one factor that leads people to shop outside of Craig."

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