THERE were shoppers in bunches today at the Ohio Valley Mall and Ohio Valley Plaza as Black Friday got under way. Some stores opened Thanksgiving night and were doing a brisk business.
Gift-seekers were making the rush to get all the early-bird bargains which were advertised in Thursday's Times-Leader. And there were a lot of them. The parking lots at both shopping meccas were crowded with vehicles at 3 a.m. and people started to form lines in front of the stores.
The K-Mart lot was one of those jammed with vehicles as shoppers were preparing to get the early bird specials.
Shoppers SWARM Brea Mall during Black Friday shopping this morning in Brea, Calif. The U.S. holiday shopping season started even earlier this year, as more than a dozen major retailers opened on the Thanksgiving holiday.
Cindy McGee and some friends from Barnesville decided to have breakfast at Bob Evans before hitting the stores. They arrived at K-Mart with gift lists in hand and shopping they went. The group included Astin Skinner, Peggy Skinner and Kyleigh McGee. They said they hoped to get most of their shopping done today.
Amanda Timko Murray headed for Toys 'R Us to take advantage of their bargains. "They have a lot of them, she said.
Being at the Ohio Valley Mall on Black Friday has become a tradition for Charla Macy of Bethesda. "Years ago, I came just to watch the crowds. Now that I have grandchidren, I joined the shoppers in bargain hunting. It is always a lot of fun," she said.
Boscov's, the Mall's newest store, was also filled with bargain hunters and the store had a lot of items advertised in Thursday's Times-Leader. Kate Brown of Bridgeport and her daughter, Lori Sacco of St. Clairsville, were checking the items on their lists as they began their shopping spree.
Elder-Beerman at the Ohio Valley Mall was also buzzing with shoppers. People were leaving the store with shopping bags loaded with items. Sears was also crowded.
HHGregg Appliance and Electronics drew a throng of bargain hunters.
George Diab, mall manager, was smiling from ear to ear as he watched the crowd. "Every store here is jammed with people and they are spending money," he said. "There is no doubt we are headed for a banner Christmas shopping season." He said mall stores are offering many outstanding bargains.
Anthony Motto and his wife, Marie of South Lyon, Michigan, are visiting relatives in Bridgeport and decided to do some shopping before heading home on Sunday.They were in the crowd at K-Mart. "We were here two years ago and it is just as much fun now as it was then," Anthony said.
Jaime Bruggerman of Temperanceville and her friends, Stacey Wells, Kelly Burkhart and Ashley McKnight said they planned to shop at stores at the mall and plaza. They said they hoped to get most of their shopping done toda y.
At 11 p.m. a throng of shoppers were at the mall's Center Court to get a free goody bag filled with great savings and promotion items for ages 12 and older. At 6 a.m. today, shoppers were at Macy's Court as 200 balloons were dropped from the ceiling. They were filled with vouchers for O hio Valley Mall gift cards and merchant prizes
Candi Noble-Greathouse noted the enthusiasm of the throng of people. "They were all in festive moods." she said. "We finished the balloon drop shortly after 7 a.m. "
Diab said he is confident stores at the mall will continue to offer bargains during the holiday season. "Our mall hours have been expanded and we are hoping all of this will continue through the Christmas shopping season and beyond."
Noble-Greathouse reminded shoppers the Belmont County Salvation Army has a free gift wrapping service at the mall. Donations are accepted and will be used for the agency's various charitable programs.