Local shoppers out in full force

ESCANABA – Shoppers were out and about early this morning in Escanaba to take advantage of several holiday specials at local retailers.

The day after Thanksgiving has historically been dubbed Black Friday by retailers, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. However, more recently, stores have been open for business on Thanksgiving Day to give shoppers even greater opportunity to fill their shopping carts.

The Escanaba Kmart planned to be open 41 hours straight – opening its doors at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and not closing until 11 p.m. tonight, according to Escanaba Kmart store manager Theresa Prosen.

“We were open on Thanksgiving last year, but the only thing that’s different is we weren’t open last year overnight so that’ll be a new experience for us,” she said earlier this

Prosen expected a mixed bag of items to sell well over the shopping holiday, including televisions, Kindles, toys and games, and said despite the reputation Black Friday brings of customers fighting over sale items, she has only noticed a positive atmosphere.

“For as long as I’ve been a manager, I have to say I’ve always had nice crowds,” said Prosen, noting she enjoys talking with customers waiting in line outside before doors open.

Escanaba Shopko store manager Dan Branam agrees.

“We don’t see that here,” he said. “I would have to say that our shoppers are very neat, orderly and cordial.”

Shopko also opened early on Thanksgiving Day from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. The store reopened Thursday at 8 p.m. and closes tonight at 11 p.m.

Branam anticipated several usual sales items to be popular again this holiday season.

“I just think, generally speaking, the electronic items historically do well and we have some toy items, too, that are going to go quick this year,” he said.

Branam expects sales this year to be about even with last year’s and noted this is an important time of the year for retailers everywhere.

Menards in Escanaba opened today at 6 a.m. for its sales, but unlike many big-box retailers, was closed on Thanksgiving Day.

The Wisconsin-based and family-owned company issued a press release that said Menards’ decision to stay closed during the Thanksgiving holiday was made so its customers and team members could celebrate the day with family and friends.

Adam Moses, assistant general manager of the Escanaba Menards, said Black Friday has been a huge success for the store in the past, with sales ranging from home improvement items to toys.

“We’re expecting it to be a lot busier this year than last year,” he said. “We have a lot of new items that we’re hoping will draw in a lot more people in the morning.”

The National Retail Federation estimates up to 140 million people plan to or will shop over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (Thursday through Sunday) based on survey results, which is a slight decrease from the 147 million estimated to do so last year. Of those surveyed, approximately 33 million shoppers said they planned to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

Black Friday is expected to be the biggest shopping day of the holiday weekend, with roughly 97 million shoppers planning to participate in the day’s sales. Nearly 44 percent of shoppers, or 61 million, anticipated shopping on Saturday, and 34 million on Sunday.