By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
SHENANGO VALLEY —
Opening on Thanksgiving was a first for many merchants, and they said the rewards paid off.
A number of national retailers opened their doors for the first time on Thanksgiving Day as a way to attract shoppers. Macy’s was among the big department stores to break with its long tradition of closing on Thanksgiving Day and opened its stores at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“We had people waiting for us to open,’’ said Sharolyn Scott, manager of Macy’s Shenango Valley Mall store in Hermitage. “There was a lot of excitement here with customers.’’
The store remained opened all night and wasn’t set to close until 10 p.m. Friday.
Among the promotions at Macy’s were electronic kitchen items for less than $10, skillets, diamond-studded earnings and a slew of clothing specials.
Employees were asked if they wanted to work a specific shift on Thursday and Friday before any assignment sheet was created, Scott said.
Noticeable almost everywhere this year early on Black Friday was the absence of shoulder-to-shoulder crowds trying to elbow their way into stores and down aisles.
Retailers credit earlier Thanksgiving openings for spreading out crowds more evenly over two days.
Sears in the Shenango Valley Mall was doing a solid business in tools and electronics. Promotional items such as infrared room heaters and cooking items were displayed on many aisles.
Likewise, the J.C. Penney store at the mall was doing well on clothing and bedding.
Others in the local business world used the long holiday weekend to start a new or different tradition for themselves.
Goldstein’s Furniture & Bedding had not had a Black Friday promotion for a couple of years, but decided to get back into the game. Among its hot buys were $64 accent tables, $299 recliners and a microfiber sofa with a similar price.
The Hermitage furniture store opened at 10 a.m. Friday, two hours earlier than normal, said Kristen Colley. “We had a lot of people waiting,’’ she said.
Buying patterns at a furniture store are a little different from traditional retailers because couples like to make their choices together.
“I think people are doing a lot of updating,’’ Colley said. “There were a lot of husbands and wives getting gifts for each other.’’
General Motors Corp. also got into the Black Friday celebration by offering $2,000 off all 2014 Cadillacs plus deals on other cars. Montrose Buick, GMC, Cadillac began telling people of the promotion after GM announced it last week, said James Fetterman, sales manager at the Hermitage dealership.
“We’re trying to capitalize on people who are out shopping and for people who want a new vehicle for the holidays,’’ Fetterman said.
At Design By G! in downtown Sharon, store owner Geri Ibanez was getting her women’s clothing, accessories and boutique shop ready for today – Small Business Saturday.
Greater Sharon Associates decided this year to boost Sharon’s Night of Lights by having food vendors, entertainers and artists starting at noon and continuing throughout the day. The regular lighting of the tree and torch and other traditional events will begin at 6 p.m.
Located in the newly named Loose Caboose Shops on East State Street, Ibanez said she is excited about the transformation the downtown has undergone in the past year.
“I have people come in every week wanting to know if there’s another store in the downtown where they can open a store,’’ she said.
In a unique twist, two stores at the small plaza across from Case Avenue Elementary School in Sharon decided to have their grand opening on Black Friday. Clark’s (photography) Studio and Cazzco, a clothing printing shop, opened Friday to try to capture buzz from all the Black Friday traffic. The businesses share an opening so patrons can move from one shop to the other without opening a door.
Bryan Clark, a manager of the family-owned enterprise, said it was time to open a location in Sharon in addition to the studio in New Castle. Clark’s offers traditional studio photography and senior portraits, plus its photographers takes pictures for school yearbooks.
Owner of Cazzco, who prefers just to use his last name, said after being in New Wilmington for more than five years it was a good time to open a shop in Sharon.
Both managers said the location close to Sharon schools was good enticement.