Stores reach out to early birds for Black Friday sales

As Black Friday approaches, and spills into Thanksgiving evening, how employers approach the holiday varies.

According to the National Federation of Retail, 165.3 million people will likely be hitting the sales between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. The most shoppers — an estimated 114.6 million — will head out on Black Friday itself. Cyber Monday could see about 68.7 million shoppers online, and Small Business Saturday could bring in 66.6 million shoppers. Judging by the weight of this paper, about 2.5 pounds with the advertisements inserted, there are many sales planned to entice customers.

“In terms of retail, this is our biggest event of the year,” said Amy Schnerr, manager for the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth. “In terms of Black Friday, this is when a lot of retailers start to operate in the black.”

At the Outlets, Ms. Schnerr noted that the shifts can get hectic for employees, so different snacks and lunch foods are brought in to make sure “everyone is fed and comfortable and hydrated,” she said. They welcome the police to come through and grab a bite, too, she said.

“The fun thing about Black Friday is that a lot of people, that’s their tradition, to go shopping on Black Friday. It’s not everybody’s thing, but there are lots of people who look forward to it, plan for it,” she said. “Anyone who is out there wants to be there.”

Because of how hard the staff works over the course of the weekend — beginning for the Tanger Outlets on Thanksgiving evening and continuing into Friday — Ms. Schnerr said it’s important to support employees.

“I think we spend a lot of our day at work — most Americans do. Americans have a hard work ethic. At Tanger, it’s important that we have a culture as a first-choice employer, a place someone wants to work,” she added. “We enjoy the work we do, and while we know it’s work, it’s a job, there’s no reason it can’t be fun, too.”

Ms. Schnerr said that when the company started opening at midnight on Black Friday Friday, about 10 years ago, it was a lot of fun.

“Sussex County is quiet. Especially in November, you’re not expecting a nightlife,” she said. “We’d do this midnight opening and people were tailgating with hot chocolate. It’s just kind of a fun time to be working and shopping.”

Prior to the holiday, the Outlets prep by setting up Christmas lights. Starting this Saturday, too, Santa and Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” will be around for photo-ops.

The holiday is always different, she noted, but the staff is always consistent.

“The employees are some of the hardest working people I know. They’re such a really nice group of people,” she said. “I have lots of respect for the work they do. I hope all the shoppers coming through will see that as well.”

At Walmart, employees get an additional 15 percent off products throughout the store over the two- day period — for a total of 25 percent off — and a catered meal that helps foster a family atmosphere, a Dover store manager said.

Dick’s Sporting Goods employees can continue to receive gift cards for the store, depending on how many credit card sign ups they get, which is standard incentive year-round.

At the corporate level, employees can receive funds for the number of credit card sign ups they get, as well.

“There’s a lot more opportunity on Black Friday, more for us to give away,” Bailey Nieto, a manager, said. “I think it’s just because a lot of people are working a lot of hours and take time away from friends and family, this gives them a little bit more incentive to want to work and be here.”

Mr. Nieto also noted that the holiday can be fun, too.

“We have fun while we do it,” he said. “It’s fun seeing the shoppers coming through here buying things for their kids and things like that.”

On Facebook, employees’ experiences with the holiday were similar to other retailers. Angelia Kowalczyk noted that at Kohl’s, her manager posts a sign up sheet so employees could select their shifts for the holiday.

“They also feed us, so that’s a bonus,” she said.

Another reader noted that her last retail employer hosted a potluck.

Lani Cotton said that she’s been working at the Dover Walmart for a long time.

“Black Friday has always been crazy, though now that the sale starts at 6 the night shift isn’t so bad,” she wrote. “But if it wasn’t for work, I’d never be out” on the busy shopping day.

Christopher Joyce noted that the earlier openings on Thanksgiving itself is forcing more people to give up their holiday.

“People used to have to show up first thing in the morning on Friday but now that Black Friday actually starts on Thursday, not sure how anything has gotten easier,” he continued.

Beyond the Black Friday sales, small businesses are banding together in downtown Dover and on Main Streets throughout Kent and Sussex on Saturday to promote the perks of shopping local.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Downtown Dover Partnership is hosting a marketplace at the Loockerman Way Plaza that includes sidewalk sales, craft and vendors, food trucks, live music and raffles. Storefronts will also be open, with sales ongoing.

“These are your niche stores that you can find the things you can’t typically find [in a box store],” said Tina Bradbury, operations manager for the Downtown Dover Partnership. “This supports local people here in the community. You get to actually meet the owners, and the money goes back into the community.”

The marketplace began four years ago, and Ms. Bradbury said that it generated a lot of buzz.

“It’s gearing up to promote people coming to support local business, and it kicks us off for the holiday season,” she noted.

Ms. Bradbury said that 21 stores and 11 food establishments are participating in the event. In addition to crossing items off your shopping lists, the marketplace in the plaza will have arts and crafts for kids and entertainment.

As an added incentive, Ms. Bradbury noted that the first 100 shoppers can pick up a gift bag, which has a downtown passport book, with coupons for each of the shops. And, for each receipt that shoppers turn in at the plaza, they’ll receive a raffle ticket for the chance to win one of four $100 American Express gift cards.

Loretta Pramick said that after the parade in Wilmington, she’d shop that downtown.

Along those lines, Travis Bowers said on Facebook that he planned to attend a community event, Sip and Shop at the Starboard in Dewey Beach.

“Great tradition,” he said.

If you shop

The following malls and retail stores will host special hours for Thanksgiving and Black Friday:

Tanger Outlets Rehoboth:

Thursday: 6 p.m. to midnight

Friday: Midnight to 10 p.m.

Dover Mall:

Thursday: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Friday)

Friday: 6 a.m. to10 p.m.

Boscov’s:

Thursday 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Friday)

Friday: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

JCPenney:

Thursday: 2 p.m. to midnight

Friday: Midnight to 10 p.m.

Target:

Thursday: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Friday)

Friday: 7 a.m.

Michaels:

Thursday: 5 p.m. to midnight

Friday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Dick’s Sporting Goods:

Thursday: 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Friday)

Friday: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

TJ Maxx:

Closed Thursday

Friday and Saturday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Best Buy

Thursday: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Friday)

Friday: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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