Each day is crucial this season to SL retail community
'Tis the season for long check out lines and cash registers spitting out long receipts. The day after Thanksgiving, sometimes known as "Black Friday," is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Storm Lake stores greeted crowds of customers getting psyched up for the season, and were not shy with the special deals.
Bomgaars offered the "Early Bird" 20 percent off cards again this year between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. The cards could be used throughout the day on most items in the store.
Manager Denis Gorde said the doors opened about 15 minutes early and many people were outside waiting.
The event began 10 years ago. "It worked so well that we keep doing it. We do big business each year," he commented.
It doesn't take long before the lines to begin forming. Extra checkers and an extra checkout lane is added for the day. Tools, toys and winter clothing are the best sellers so far this season. "Most people are looking for gifts but we do get some do-it-yourselfers in taking advantage of the discount."
Down the road, Wal-Mart was also busy. The store is open 24 hours a day, but many of the bargain prices went into effect at 6 a.m. Assistant manager Jan Dowdy commented that special measures must be taken to give all the shoppers a fair shot. The special merchandise is kept on pallets, wrapped with plastic, under the watchful eye of associates until exactly at 6 a.m.
Electronics were big sellers at the store Friday. The fifty digital cameras featuring their own docks were swept up in four minutes!
With that exception, store managers made sure that there was a good supply of the other items featured in the special flyers. "We like to carry more than we're going to sell," she said. "We don't want to see the customers disappointed."
Holiday shoppers snapped up 20" TV/DVD players, two-screen DVD players for use in the car and computers. Toys went out by the cartload. The return of Care Bear was the early favorite.
"We were real real happy with the sales throughout the day," Dowdy said. "It seemed like everyone was real positive about the day," she added.
Mike Kohler at Sugar Bowl said business was brisk all day, beginning at 7 a.m. The early shoppers, he said, were possibly those who wanted to do a little shopping before they went off to work.
Gift items, as well as gift wrap and boxed Christmas cards, were heading out the door.
The Hallmark strategy offers many holiday specials which can be purchased at low prices with the purchase of other items. A beautifully illustrated children Christmas book and the Jingle Pals singing snowmen are two of the popular items. "The customers in the store during the day were upbeat. I didn't see any holiday blues. This is a fun day to shop with family and out of town guests," Kohler said.
Radio Shack doors opened at 6 a.m. and Nancy Sargent said they were "met at the door" by customers. The $19.99 DVD players that were featured, stereos, remote control cars and phones were big sellers at the store. "People were happy and ready to shop," she commented.
Managers at Maurices and The Buckle both said shopping was slow in their stores and both felt that the loss of JC Penney in Storm Lake is having an impact on the ability to retail clothing items.
Angie DeMey of Maurices added that the customers in the store were looking for a little of everything, from casual to dressy clothing.
Amee Lundberg of The Buckle pointed out a unique way to keep gifts from being discovered at home is to use their "hide-away" feature. From now until the week of Christmas, any lay-away item will be wrapped free of charge and "hidden away" until pick up. No hassles and no wrapping paper needed at home for these gifts.
Helen Bosley at Hoffman's is looking forward to what appears to be a "good season."
Traffic into the store Friday was brisk, she said. Several gifts, tree ornaments, wreath bows and tree skirts were purchased early on. The holiday Poinsettias are now ready for purchase as well as fresh roping, wreaths and evergreen, fresh and artificial.
Decorating is one of the top priorities; Bosley and her crew have been invited to several homes to decorate.
Buena Vista Stationery employees also saw a steady stream of customers. Though there were many gift wrappings done, a lot of shoppers came just to look and get ideas, employees said.
Each day is critical to Storm Lake retail hopes, and some stores do nearly half their annual business during the holidays. Most Storm Lake stores have extended hours, now open from 1-4 p.m. on Sundays. Evening weekday hours will begin next week.