Back in black

Holiday shoppers return to stores in full force after pandemic closures

Black Friday shoppers (from left) Michelle Partner of Altoona, Margaret O’Shea of Bellwood, April Grazier of Tyrone and Rose Stuby of Tyrone load their packages in the back of their car at the Logan Towne Center on Friday. Mirror photo by Cynthia Wise

Shoppers headed out to the stores for Black Friday deals and despite some changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they reported success in finding gifts for those on their shopping lists.

Shaina Stone headed to the Logan Towne Center from Bedford County and snagged some gifts for family members.

“I found some Columbia sweatshirts on sale at JCPenney and boots at Macy’s,” she said.

Stone typically shops every Black Friday with her mother and aunt, but they don’t look for anything in particular.

“We just do it to be together,” she said.

A Black Friday shopper crosses a busy road at the Logan Towne Center on Friday. Mirror photo by Cynthia Wise

Woodbury resident Stephanie Over also wasn’t looking for anything specific, but spent some time looking around for deals at Dick’s Sporting Goods and Barnes & Noble.

She said she just enjoys shopping with her mother and daughters.

“We go every year,” Over said. “We don’t get up early or anything, but we go and if we see something, we get it.”

Many shoppers displayed their Christmas spirit with matching outfits and holiday-themed accessories. Sporting a set of antlers, Margaret O’Shea of Bellwood was shopping with friends Michelle Partner of Altoona, April Grazier and Rose Stuby, both of Tyrone, who were similarly decked out in festive flair. The trunk of their vehicle, parked in a full lot at the Logan Towne Center, was crammed with their finds by noon.

Alex Gates and her boyfriend, Josh Weitzel, both of Altoona, hit a bunch of places across town in search of deals.

“We’ve been to Target, Walmart, Dick’s, just everywhere,” Weitzel said, adding that shopping is his girlfriend’s thing and that he’s “just along for the ride.”

“We usually go with family,” Gates said.

Gates didn’t think there were as many deals this year as compared to past years.

“With COVID-19 and deals starting earlier, there aren’t as many discounts,” she said.

Ben Whipkey of Somerset agreed that the pandemic seemed to put a damper on the usually busy holiday.

Whipkey and his friend, Jason Philip, were out to purchase guns and ammunition, checking out deals at Dick’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

They were a bit disappointed this year, Whipkey said, but added “We just have a good time running around for the day.”

Houtzdale residents Alicia Cervenac and her husband, Joe, were “mostly doing Christmas shopping.” They went to Dick’s and Boscov’s in search of some deals and said if they saw anything they needed for their house, they would go ahead and get that, too.

Joe said the crowds were relatively tame.

“There haven’t been horrible crowds, and everyone’s been pleasant, really,” he said. “I think people are just happy to be out shopping.”

That spirit was evident at the Logan Valley Mall, which resembled Black Fridays of old as shoppers returned in force after a pandemic-curbed experience last year. Several stores monitored foot traffic, controlling the number of customers allowed inside, as lines of shoppers snaked around racks of holiday bargains.

As snow flurries filled the air at the Logan Towne Center parking lot, Chris Lander and Madison Noel said they were out shopping with friends and were stopping at “several different places,” including the Logan Valley Mall and Best Buy.

Lander was interested in deals on electronics but said he was disappointed this year.

“I haven’t seen a lot of deals other than a couple buy-one-get-one-frees,” he said.

Noel said shopping Friday was “cold and hectic.”

Local businesses, like Unkel Joe’s Woodshed, experienced a high volume of customers.

“Black Friday, generally speaking, is the biggest day of the year for us,” said General Manager Tim Baker. “That’s holding true for us this year as well.”

Baker said Unkel Joe’s had a variety of deals including 50% off Christmas trees and purses, as well as 20% off train sets.

“The number of attractive items helps bring people in,” Baker said. “It’s been very good, and we’re pleased with the number of people coming in.”

Mirror copy editor Cynthia Wise contributed to this report.


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