Area merchants said the holiday shopping season is off to a good start.
Many area stores opened their doors Thanksgiving Day evening to get a head start on the traditional Black Friday shopping spree.
Some Logan Valley Mall merchants were surprised at the number of shoppers ready to part with their dollars.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Stephanie Young and her daughter Kayla Wirfel, both of Ebensburg, step off the escalator at the Logan Valley Mall during a shopping spree they started at 6 a.m. Friday.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
(From left) Barb Lewis of Elizabethtown, and Shirlee Lewis, Liza Geyer and Cindy Jones, all of Weedville take a break from Black Friday shopping.
"We opened at 8 p.m. From eight o'clock until about 1:30 a.m. we were swamped. It was quite a rush. I was surprised at the number of people we had at that time," said Jeff Beach, manager of Shenk & Tittle. "There were a lot of young people looking around but also a lot of shoppers. It was strong the whole night."
"We opened at midnight and had about 30 people waiting in line when we opened. Traffic flow was different. There seemed to be more energy in the mall about midnight," said Laura O'Farrell, co-owner of Ooh La La. "I was a little bit surprised with other stores opening earlier than us."
Charles Kranich, president of Kranich's Jewelers, also admitted he was surprised with the early turnout of shoppers.
"We opened at eight o'clock, and it has been very active in the store. We are off to a good start. I would say the crowds are more than expected," Kranich said.
The shopping season is also off to a good start at J.C. Penney, manager Bill Crouse said.
"We had a lot of people come in when we opened. I would say the crowd was about what I expected, and that is good," Crouse said.
J.C. Penney and the other mall anchors, Macy's and Sears, and some other stores opened at eight o'clock.
Shoppers responded to the early openings.
"We saw some families together shopping and a lot of young shoppers throughout the night. There were a lot of high school and college-age shoppers in the overnight period," said Joy Weidel, mall spokeswoman.
The mall added some new features to liven things up for shoppers.
"We had a DJ playing music, it was a dance hall atmosphere, and we served free refreshments. We had people line dancing and requesting songs," Weidel said.
Beyond the mall, the shopping season got off to a good start at Boscov's in Logan Town Centre.
"We probably had about 200 people come in when we opened the doors. We've been really busy. We had a lot of traffic [Thursday] night and into [Friday]. We had a lot of traffic when we opened at seven o'clock. It died down and then picked up again about ten," said manager Duane Mohr. "The Altoona-Johnstown market is a great Black Friday market for the company."
Larry Baker, owner of Unkel Joe's Woodshed in the Pleasant Valley Shopping Center, which didn't open until 9 a.m. Friday, is pleased with the initial turnout of shoppers.
"It's been brisk. I am pleased with the traffic for not being open for the crazy hours. We stuck to our normal hours," Baker said.
Each store has its own hot selling items.
"Ladies cozy socks and silly slippers for the kids are blowing off the shelves. Holiday scents of Yankee Candles are popular, and toys have been a big part of the early business. Thermal shirts are selling like crazy for both men and women," Mohr said.
"People are buying a little bit of everything, A lot of sweaters, fleece, home goods including small appliances, those kind of things," Crouse said.
Diamonds are popular at Kranich's.
"The hottest selling items so far are diamond pendants and engagement rings. There has been a lot of traffic for engagement rings and also some watches," Kranich said.