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And they're off! Shoppers pack SCV stores

Posted: November 28, 2008 10:18 p.m.
Updated: November 29, 2008 4:59 a.m.

Shoppers take advantage of door-busting sales Friday morning at Westfield Valencia Town Center.

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With 50 people straining to see over their shoulders, Candace Jensen, sisters Susan and Teresa Rodney and Courtney Granger staked their claim to a front-of-the-line position at the entrance of Victoria's Secret at 5:45 a.m. Friday.

"We're here for the pushing-and-shoving competition," said Granger, 20, of Valencia.

The Westfield Valencia Town Center store offered a limited number of free tote bags filled with cosmetics and coupons to whoever could grab them first and spend more than $60.

The first four went to Granger and the others.

For some like Granger, the traditional Black Friday routine - wake up before the sun rises, wait hours in long lines and rush the doors for great deals and freebies - carried its usual buzz.

Others made do with what they said were fair or average deals.

"Across the board, there's a little disappointment," said Monte Lampert of Canyon Country, about the sales. "I thought there would be more 60- to 70-percent-off (sales), especially on fine jewelry. The most I'm seeing is 50 percent. I think stores know they are not going to get as many customers, so they make up for it in prices."

Despite discontent over pricing, Lampert and his mother Sharon Lampert took a Frappuccino break to brace for an additional six hours of shopping on top of the three they already did.
Crystal Scott, 19, from the San Francisco Bay area, was pleased with the deals she found.

By 7:30 a.m., she had to rest on a bench with three stuffed Anchor Blue bags hanging from her wrist.

"I've been here since 4:30 a.m.," she said. "I spent over $200. I'm done. I've been saving for this all year though. I live in Northern California and things are more expensive up there."

Scott said she was in town partially for the holidays, and partially for the Black Friday sales, especially the Anchor Blue deals.

"I've never done a Black Friday before," she said. "I was expecting it to be a lot scarier because of the economy. But it feels like a regular day at the mall.

"It's good for me though - I'm not getting crushed."

Anchor Blue manager Tracey Trevithick was happy with early-morning customer traffic.

"People are being conscientious about how they spend, but I'm not going to let the economy be our downfall," Trevithick said.

Alex Medina, general manager of Best Buy at Bouquet Canyon and Newhall Ranch roads, was optimistic about Black Friday profits, especially after the store opened its doors to a customer line that extended
past neighboring store Orchard Supply Hardware at 5 a.m.

However, the line was not as long as previous years.

"Business looks good," Medina said. "It's hectic like it is every year."

Best Buy store officials and employees controlled an opening rush by passing out colored tickets to customers based on which section of the store they would be shopping in.

Customers could match their ticket to bundles of colored balloons and quickly make their way to their destinations.

Store officials held a meeting prior to opening to brief employees of what to expect and calm employee nerves.

One couple walked away empty-handed after discovering the Nintendo's Wii Fit exercise video game sold out at Best Buy.

"I guess we got out of bed too late," said Randy Cookson of Canyon Country. Cookson and his wife, Tracy, visited five different stores to find the game for their daughter.

The Wal-Mart on Copperhill Drive in Valencia also ran out of certain hot items including a 32-inch television at $388, said Wal-Mart greeter Fred Cable.

By 7:15 a.m., Cable and other greeters handed out 1,500 flyers to incoming customers.

"A regional (official) came in and told us a while ago that we had twice the customer count from last year," Cable said. "Most people are spending $200 to $300 every shopping cart. We only had a couple people pushing and shoving. I think we're going to be good this year. We're getting a lot of customers from other stores that don't normally shop here."

Wal-Mart shopper Jamie Lam of Valencia was loading her trunk with boxes of gifts for her kids. But Lam was skeptical concerning Black Friday's boost to the economy.

"A lot of conservative consumers like myself are looking for the best deal for our money," she said.

For the most part, the deals did not out-shine previous years, she said.

"It's just a matter of finding the best deal that works for you."


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