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Bargain shoppers take on Black Friday

December 02, 2009
After the turkey is served and fridges fill up with mashed potatoes and stuffing leftovers, bargain hunters are already mapping out a plan for perhaps their most anticipated time of the year.

The day after Thanksgiving proved to be more than popular this year, and technically started at midnight last Thursday at the Tanger Outlets in Tilton for dedicated shoppers who really wanted to get the most out of a long day of sales.

Other shoppers filled the parking lots at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, while some slept in until 8 a.m., and still others decided to browse leftover deals later in the day. Although each shopper had a different gift idea, or an amazing sale find while looking for the perfect gift, every shopper we spoke with agreed their holidays would focus more on family than presents this year.

Shelby Curran and Courtney Vore from Amherst, along with their friend Lindsay Petrella from Hollis, travel an hour each year on Black Friday for their "traditional" shopping trip together at the Tilton Outlets. This was their fifth trip.

Petrella explained that this year her friends decided to do a gift swap for one person at a $100 maximum instead of buying a gift for everyone to save money. She said this rule went for the adults only since the kids will still see more than one present, but not the usual bounty.

"Hopefully we are spending less this year. We are especially getting less for the kids," said Petrella.

The three friends agreed that the hour drive was worth it since they found outlet sales in general to be the most reasonable. They said they like to find a bargain or two but admire the "midnight shoppers" and the people who manage to crawl out of bed at 5 a.m.

Although most people have tried to cut back on presents this year or have tried homemade, more creative gifts considering the circumstances, some shoppers have always found themselves to be frugal.

Abby Nelson from New Hampshire and her mother Shirley Nelson from Montana came together with a close friend all the way from Idaho for the holidays and for their "yearly stop" at the outlets.

"We are strict about it anyways. We are here for deals. We aren't going to pay full price," said Abby Nelson. "We are bargain shoppers we have always been frugal."

Her mother agreed that no matter what the holiday, occasion, or economy, she will always check out the prices before making a purchase.

Norma Tucker from Connecticut took a break from the rain and the shopping frenzy, admitting she was a little worn out from her shopping experience last night during "Midnight Madness."

"I was surprised by all the cars that were here last night at midnight," said Tucker, who traveled for the holidays to visit her daughter in Laconia.

"I am trying to save money this year. I like it here; Connecticut has a sales tax. It is a lot nicer here," said Tucker, who prefers outlets when searching for deals.

Many shoppers set out on Black Friday to save a few dollars, but some shoppers admitted they spend about the same every year, and don't fret as much over prices.

Vicki Roska came up from Massachusetts to visit her parents this year and said she hardly ever does anything different, stable economy or not. This also marked her first Black Friday at the outlets, which she managed to survive, and she admitted she appreciated not paying sales taxes.

Away from the outlets, with sales ads in hand, shoppers lined up outside of the Wal-Mart in Gilford to find their bargains.

Wanda Wright, her daughters Laura and Tara Davis, and her son, Randy Davis from Springfield, Vt., came to visit family last week.

Wright said she is always looking for deals but missed the best ones this year. She said she wanted to find a special present, perhaps a laptop, for her son who will be serving for the military by next Christmas.

"I found myself not spending as much money this year. I started early this year looking for deals. I work at the Department of Labor in Vermont so I know about the economy," said Wright.

The Goutier family from Methuen, Mass., came up to visit family and said they always like to clip coupons and save flyers, but they try not to use them unless they were going to purchase a product anyway. Sandra Goutier said she always makes a list and tries to stick with it the best she can.

Nancy Lynch from Keene came to Gilford to spend time with her nieces and bring them to the candy shop in the Wal-Mart complex. She said she wasn't looking for presents as much as she was looking for time with her family.

"We did some good things for our kids this year. We're not doing big things for Christmas, just spending time with family," said Lynch.

Two Wal-mart employees taking a break from a hectic morning said they've seen a lot of people pinching pennies.

"People really plan out what they are spending money on this year. People are being frugal with their money. We are cutting back," said one employee. "TV's flew out last year but not this year. We were slammed this year. People are thinking of what they really need."

Matt and Trisha Griffin came all the way from Naples, Maine, to spend a getaway together in Meredith. They took their time browsing through Mill Falls in Meredith during the rain and said saving has been on their minds as well.

"I think we are like everybody, thinking before we make a purchase. We are limiting gifts instead of buying a bounty this year," said Matt Griffin.

Trisha Griffin added that her family planned to pick names from a hat this year to slim down gift purchases.

"It is the thought that matters, not so much the gift," said Trisha Griffin who plans to get creative with cookie baking this year. "We will make up for it with good food."

Mill Falls employee Alyson Tankard said she noticed that most people this year are gearing towards bargain shops and events such as "Midnight Madness" at the outlets. She said she was surprised to see so many people at Mill Falls on Black Friday, although it could have been an excuse for many to escape the rain.

Most every shopper on Black Friday agreed that bargains are great and may be worth the lack of sleep and lack of parking spaces, but the slight upside of an economy on the down low may mean more of a focus on family during the holidays this year.

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