Retail stores across the country are preparing for an onslaught of shoppers today, otherwise known as Black Friday. Black Friday is a term used for the day after Thanksgiving shopping blitz. Owners of local stores, including The Kitchen Shop, above, in downtown Craig, are also expecting busier-than-usual customer traffic.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Retail stores across the country are preparing for an onslaught of shoppers today, otherwise known as Black Friday. Black Friday is a term used for the day after Thanksgiving shopping blitz. Owners of local stores, including The Kitchen Shop, above, in downtown Craig, are also expecting busier-than-usual customer traffic.

Businesses prepare for beginning of holiday shopping season

— Black Friday.

Widely recognized as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, the phrase conjures images of frantic shoppers flooding stores the day after Thanksgiving.

In Craig, local businesses and large retail stores are geared up for the event.

Estimated shopper turnout nationally is significant, the National Retail Federation, one of the world's largest retail trade associations, reported.

An NRF survey found about 133 million people will shop on Black Friday and the weekend following.

The survey also found 55.1 million were determined to shop this weekend, while 77.8 million said they were still undecided.

Local business owners are taking the event seriously as well.

"It's always a good day," said Nadine Daszkiewicz, owner of The Kitchen Shop in downtown Craig.

To cope with an influx of shoppers, the store is opening two hours earlier. Still, Daszkiewicz doesn't expect this year's Black Friday to outsell those of past years.

She predicted the arrival of Wal-Mart in Craig wouldn't hamper her sales during the weekend.

On the contrary, it could help them, she said.

As more shoppers come to Craig from out of town, they may also stop at local businesses to spend their holiday dollars, she said. Daszkiewicz has seen these effects already.

"We've had more out-of-town shoppers," she said.

While Black Friday weekend is known as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Daszkiewicz and fellow local business owners said other days in the holiday season have proved more lucrative for them in the past.

"We've had much higher days in the month of December," said Caroline Dotson, co-owner of Downtown Books.

Like Daszkiewicz, Dotson expects business to be busy, but not much busier, than last year's Black Friday.

To accommodate the influx, all three of the store's employees will be working Friday. Dotson plans to be in the store at 9 a.m., an hour earlier than usual.

"We're getting stocked up for Christmas in general," Dotson said.

Other businesses aren't worried about the crowds of customers usually associated with Black Friday.

"We just take them one at a time," said Sandi Mansfield, co-owner of KS Kreations. "They're not in a rush."

Mansfield also has scheduled additional help for the day and plans to extend business hours by opening the doors at 7 a.m.

Kmart and Wal-Mart are following suit.

On Black Friday, Wal-Mart opens an hour earlier and closes at its normal time, store manager Lou Groff said.

Its competitor, Kmart, also plans to open an hour earlier than normal.

Both stores were open Thanksgiving Day.

The box stores offer sales in their attempts to lure Black Friday shoppers.

Wal-Mart will host sales during "blitz hours" in addition to online sales. Kmart plans sales for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"It's always a busy day," Kmart manager Rich Jukkola said.

Jukkola had one reservation about the heavily-trafficked shopping day: the name, Black Friday.

Instead, he called the event by a less sinister name.

"It's the opening of the Christmas shopping season," he said.

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