‘Starting the holidays’; Retailers kickoff Christmas shopping season
Published 11:32 am Friday, November 27, 2015
The Christmas shopping season officially kicked off in Austin and around the country Thursday night and Friday morning.
With bellies full of Thanksgiving goodies, hundreds of shoppers lined up outside retailers like Shopko at 4 p.m. and Younkers at 5 p.m. to gobble up holiday deals.
“I think the most exciting part is just having everyone come out and start their holidays,” Younkers manager Randy Forster said. “Because there’s just so many great bargains and it’s just kind of fun to be out with your friends and neighbors staring the holidays.”
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Younkers gave away 200 gift cards ranging from $5 to $500 for the second year, and they were gone in a matter of minutes, leaving several people asking if they were still available.
“It really brings people out,” Forster said.
Even after the cards were gone, Forster estimated another hundred people came in the door in the next few minutes. Forster estimated the number of people at Younkers was a bit larger than last year.
Rampage boots were a hot item at Younkers as many shoppers quickly gathered several pairs and were looking through them at benches in the old Oak Park Mall area. Cindy Walters of Blooming Prairie was one of the many Younkers shoppers targeting the $19.95 boots.
“I love boots,” she said.
Walters went to Younkers for the boots last year, but they sold out quickly and she didn’t get a pair. This year, she grabbed four pairs — two to give as gifts and a few pairs for herself.
Walters had also shopped at Shopko Thurday and was thinking of heading to Walmart, but said she was going to see how busy the parking lot was before she ventured inside.
Along with boots and shoes, Forster said jackets and many items in the home department were hot items.
At Shopko, many people were targeting televisions, toys and several other items around the store.
Dylan Schroeder of Austin went to Shopko to get a TV for a Christmas gift along with other electronics, games and more. Like many of the shoppers out on Friday, Schroeder was out with family as he shopped with his girlfriend, Wieonia O’Neil, and her daughter, Jayden Morrison, 14.
The group ate their Thanksgiving meal earlier in the day and then went shopping after. Schroeder only shops about every other year on Thanksgiving, but the earlier store openings of the last few years fit better into his schedule.
“It’s better because I work Fridays and I don’t normally get out,” he said.
Jayden got to help pick out one of her Christmas presents — a tablet — while her brother wanted a TV.
“I don’t get to open them even,” Jayden joked of her present.
However, Jayden noted the family isn’t often successful at keeping Christmas secrets.
“Christmas doesn’t always go well because me and my brother at least tell one present to each other,” she said.
Her brother had already spilled about Jayden’s surprise Christmas gift: a custom longboard featuring her favorite anime characters and a personalized message on the bottom.
Other Shopko shoppers were also hunting for Christmas presents with family. Sherrie Delhanty of Austin ate her Thanksgiving meal earlier Thursday before she and several relatives went out to Shopko, Younkers and Walmart. The group planned to shop in Rochester on Friday.
“It’s just a tradition that we started with my family that we all went out shopping after we eat dinner,” she said.
Shopko manager Pam Oster was proud of her staff for their hard work heading into the holiday season.
“We’re ready to go and we’re excited,” she said.
Along with many returning customers, Oster expected Shopko to attract a few new ones after Austin’s Target closed earlier this year.
Younkers and Shopko were both open through the the night Thursday into Friday. Younkers closes at 10 p.m. Friday, while Shopko is open until 11 p.m. Friday.
At Shopko, many door busters ended at noon Friday, while other stores like JoAnn Fabric, Runnings and Rooms and Rest furniture kicked off their Black Friday deals this morning.
Along with this weekend, most stores planned other deals throughout the rest of the holiday season.
“We’re geared up for the holiday season,” Oster said.