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Black Friday sales are up, Victoria store managers say (Video)

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Nov. 23, 2012 at 5:23 a.m.
Updated Nov. 24, 2012 at 5:24 a.m.

Shoppers rush into Sears in Victoria on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m. A pair were first in line and said they had been waiting since Wednesday at 6 p.m. The store opened and gave out vouchers for televisions and other electronics to those who were first in line.

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What was the craziest thing you saw while Black Friday shopping?

The lines. Definitely the unorganized lines. But I would do it again. If you don't, you feel left out.

Vincent Vidaurri, Victoria, Victoria West High School junior

Last year someone was arrested at Target, but things seem more calm this time. The night is young, though.

Mendy Villarreal, Victoria, surgical nurse

I saw kids jumping over refrigerator parts to get to the DVDs and video games at Wal-Mart. It was crazy.

Keirsten Reed, Victoria, Victoria West High School sophomore

Nothing was organized. I even had a cashier tell me they didn't know how to ring up one of my receipts, so they were just winging it.

Lilly Amejorado, Port Lavaca, H-E-B employee

I was at the front of the line at Victoria's Secret and I had people pushing me at the bins for the $25 hoodies. I think this was worse than Wal-Mart.

Stacie Garcia, Victoria, student at Texas A&M University

People gathered in clusters outside store entrances waiting for them to open Thursday night and giving them aVin early start on Black Friday shopping.

Rue 21 opened at midnight. People rushed into the store when the doors opened, and the business stayed busy until about 3 a.m.

"It was a little crazy," said Monica Maloney, store manager.

The crowd dropped off about 3 a.m., but business picked back up as the day wore on.

Those waiting outside Journeys got a free energy drink as they rushed into the shoe store at midnight, said Tasia Higgins, store manager.

"I wasn't expecting a crowd like that," Higgins said.

Journeys took in about $1,200 in an hour - what they usually make in a day - and made about $5,000 by mid-afternoon, she said.

Not everything went swimmingly on Black Friday.

For Belton resident Courtney Krueger, who shopped in Victoria for after-Thanksgiving sales, it was an incident at Target that stood out in her mind.

"Someone sprayed Mace," she said outside Kohl's as she waited for the store to open. "Things were crazy."

Victoria police received a call from a woman at Target saying her 7-year-old son was pepper sprayed while going down the toy aisle. Officers did not follow up because she said there were no major injuries and did not call back.

Lt. Michael Beyer, of the police department, said Friday afternoon that the incident could have been a prank or an accidental spray from somebody fumbling in their purse. Pranks involving pepper spray with no major injuries are considered Class C misdemeanors.

An intentional spraying with the intent to harm someone would be considered an assault, Beyer said.

The caller said it was about 9 p.m. when they started feeling the effects, according to the officer's report.

Amy Brown, an Edna preschool teacher, said Black Friday shopping is an annual tradition for her and her family. The group went to many stores throughout the day, she said, although she hit a snag during her time at Wal-Mart.

Brown arrived just after 4 p.m. Thursday and stood in line for the Xbox games that would be available four hours later. Store personnel moved the line at one point, she said, and then relocated the games to the frozen food section.

Although she came away with the items she was after, two children who cut in line wound up stepped on by the crowd. They made it out OK.

Shopper Marco Porrad said he saw two woman begin an exchange of words after someone tried to break into the line.

The exchange became heated and led to some shoving before an employee came over and broke up the fight, he said.

The crowd was large enough outside Buckle that the store manager gave his employees the go-ahead to open the store 20 minutes early.

Buckle was still doing brisk business by late afternoon. Last year, Buckle chose not to open early on Black Friday, a decision Eric Trapp, store manager, said he came to regret.

Set to open at midnight this year, Trapp opened the doors early after about 45 people had collected in front of the store.

"It was crazy. I underestimated how it was going to be. I'll have to have more people working next year," he said.

Sales were up 20 to 25 percent from last year, Trapp said.

While some have decried how Black Friday hours are starting earlier and earlier - some stores opened Thursday evening - Trapp said he thinks the hours helped business.

"Opening earlier helped a lot and, I think this year, the excitement of having so many stores in the mall open early helped get people out to the mall," he said.

Brian Patteson, J.C. Penney store leader, said his company opened at 6 a.m. Friday and saw just as much of a rush with customers swarming into the store and buying up $8 items.

"The store was more crowded than I've seen it in years and years," Patteson said.

The company refrains from opening on Thanksgiving to make sure employees can enjoy their holiday, he said.

"We want to be good to our team members," he said.

Shoppers were still hustling through Victoria Mall on Friday afternoon, but Rosalie Sykora sat on a bench, holding her shopping bag and watching the crowd.

"I had to buy some things, and I got a good deal on them," she said, noting that the stores were crowded, but she was enjoying the hustle and bustle marking the beginning of the holiday season.

Sykora had just finished making purchases at J.C. Penney. She had started earlier in the day, snapping up a stack of Christmas movies for a good price at Wal-Mart.

"I think it's neat. I like this Black Friday stuff. It's a chance to go see the decorations at the mall and for the kids to sit on Santa's lap if they want to," she said.

Victoria Advocate reporters Allison Miles and Carolina Astrain contributed to this story.

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