Businesses prepare for Black Friday

Published 6:10 am Thursday, November 27, 2008

The wait is almost over.

In a matter of hours, many Mower County residents will be sacrificing sleep to gain a head start on their Christmas shopping, beat the other diehards and make a mad dash for the “doorbuster,” a term that hasn’t even made it to the dictionary.

Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season, kicks off tomorrow.

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Younkers opens at 4 a.m., followed by Shopko, Sears and Hy-Vee at 5 a.m.

Store owners and managers are getting ready.

“It’s really the first time we’ve done it,” said Todd Hepler, Hy-Vee director. “We actually went out and bought some things that we would normally not sell.”

While Hy-Vee is usually open 24 hours, it’s closed today and will re-open bright and early tomorrow, complete with an all-you-can eat breakfast buffet for $4.99.

“It’s for customers who would be shopping early and need to refuel,” Hepler said.

One of the hot items at Hy-Vee this year, Hepler said, is a 42-inch Panasonic HDTV, which sells for $698.

The store has 100 of them.

“If you check Black Friday pricing, for this TV, it’s the cheapest in America,” he said. “We actually have received numerous calls for these TVs. I do believe they will be gone by 8 tomorrow morning.”

Other store merchandise will be marked down to what Hepler called “ridiculously low prices.”

Richard Owens, Shopko district manager for South Dakota, Southern Minnesota and Iowa, said his stores will feature 70 percent more doorbuster items than last year, specially priced merchandise that is only available to customers for a certain part of the day.

Shopko’s doorbusters will last from 5 to 11 a.m. and feature everything from an MP3 player to a car navigation system.

“It’s always a very important day for us as a company,” Owens said.

For this year, Younkers can claim the title of “earliest to open,” as the Austin department store will be doing so at least an hour before any other local store, with the exception of Wal-Mart, which is open 24 hours.

Younkers features 50-pages of doorbusters that cover everything from an electronic toothbrush to winter coats for both men and women.

The items are only offered at the special price from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Companywide, our associates and our corporate office have been planning this for so long,” said Heidi Frank, publicity manager for Younkers. “We’ve added a lot of doorbusters, literally hundreds.”

Despite the current economic crisis facing the country, Frank said her company is looking forward to the holiday season.

“We have worked really hard to ensure everyone is getting the most value out of their shopping this year,” she said.

Even some of the smaller businesses in town are expecting a big turnout for Black Friday.

“The morning is slower because of the big box stores,” said Bonnie Mogen, owner of Bonnie’s Hallmark on Main Street. “They get up early, they go to the big box stores, they have their breakfast and then they filter downtown.”

Mogen is expecting a big crowd during the Christmas in the City celebration, which is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. in Austin tomorrow and features visits with Santa and the Children’s Holiday Parade.

Bonnie’s store will be handing out free popcorn balls.

“Last year, we gave away 600 popcorn balls,” she said.

She also said it’s important to shop locally.

“It all just trickles down,” she said. “I know there are times you can’t, but at least give it a try first.”

On Black Friday, many Mower County residents will do just that.