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Local shoppers pack stores early for "kick-off" to holiday shopping season

Throughout the day Friday the parking lot at Wal-Mart along Hudson Road was filled to the brim with automobiles after an initial rush of several hundred shoppers lined up outside the retail giant to fulfill their desires for "door buster" deals. Staff photo by Hank Long.1 / 2
While many parking lots were full Friday, some, like the lot outside the retail shell once occupied by Sportsman's Warehouse, remained empty. Over the last year a string of shops like Sportsman's Warehouse, WorldMarket and Office Depot closed around town. Staff photo by Hank Long.2 / 2

They came out early looking for deals Friday morning. And they came out in droves.

Across the retail landscape in Woodbury stores opened their doors for "Black Friday" as early as 4 a.m. in some locations.

Employees at many of the "big box" shops arrived well before dawn to a site of hundreds waiting to get inside to find "door buster" deals for electronics, clothes and kitchen appliances.

Some store managers said they witnessed larger "Black Friday" crowds this year than in 2008, when the effects of a souring economy negatively impacted retail sales across the country.

Although vacant storefronts still pepper the landscape of shopping centers throughout Woodbury, many local retailers were optimistic about the anticipated holiday shopping season.

A line of more than 600 people began forming outside of Kohl's in Woodbury Village at 2:30 a.m. Friday, said store manager Robert Polster, who showed up with staff to prepare for the rush of people looking for a plethora of items on sale including, down comforters, digital cameras and digital picture frames.

"It's a pretty big adrenaline rush," Polster said about the "official kick-off" to the holiday shopping season. "We had a good system set up for getting people into the store, but it still took about 45 minutes once we opened the doors to get everyone in."

Over at the Best Buy off Inwood Avenue, general manager Jason Flom described the 5 a.m. scene as "organized chaos."

About an hour before the store opened, Best Buy employees began distributing numbered tickets to customers in line to prevent any arguing over who got to a sale item first.

"The first one's were here for televisions and computers, mostly," Flom said.

The first customer in line showed up as Best Buy employees closed the store Wednesday evening. The shopper camped out throughout Thanksgiving Day to secure his place in line on Friday morning.

"He earned first dibs," Flom said.

Mall managers at Woodbury Lakes said they were more than pleased to see an initial burst of shoppers even before the mall officially opened at 8 a.m. Some stores opened earlier, said Laurie Mordorski, an administrative assistant with Welsh Companies who manages Woodbury Lakes.

"It's been great shopping all day," Mordorski said. "A good sign of things to come this season."

Throughout the day Woodbury Lakes partnered with Santa Claus, who traipsed throughout the outdoor corridor of the retail center handing out candy canes. Santa also posed for pictures with children in front of the shopping centers Christmas tree at the top of every hour.

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