Hundreds turn out for Black Friday deals
Black Friday exceeded the expectations of retailers: long before sunrise, hundreds of faithful customers lined the streets outside a handful of Hamilton stores.
Well before the Phoenix Centre and Brown and Co opened their doors at 5.30am, orderly but anxious queues extended down the block from each shop.
Marshalling her staff at 4.45am, Brown and Co general manager Nicole Warren said shoppers had begun to arrive at 2.30am. “I’ve been here hours already,” confirmed eager shopper Angela Bean, who was able to see, through the doors of Brown and Co, the massage kit she had picked out to buy. I’ve been having a great time, listening to the music, eating a little snack, talking to all the people.”
A police car sat nearby, keeping an eye on what turned out to be a cheerful crowd.
Said shopper Carmen Waldorf: “I’m not Christmas shopping per se, just getting some home decor for the holidays. There’s a vase, a tall vase, that I want to get. I just hope somebody doesn’t grab it.”
Many expressed surprise at the turnout. Phoenix CEO George Grundmuller guessed roughly 600 people poured into the two stores within the first five minutes of doors opening.
Women comprised the majority, and most were shopping for toys.
With 40 percent discounts between 5.30am and 6.30am, followed by 30 percent at 6.31am to 8am, and 20 percent from 8.01am to 9pm, the bulk of the shopping was finished before the sun came up. At a casual estimate, tens of thousands of dollars in purchases had been rung up at the Reid Street stores before 5.45am.
“This is new for Bermuda and it’s going smoothly,” said a woman babysitting for a friend outside the Phoenix Centre, as the crowd surged into the store. “You can see how Bermudians have got class. There’s nobody pushing.”
Not quite but shoppers eyed one another closely, and once inside, some proceeded directly to the items they had apparently put to one side on Thursday, stashed in corners of the shop.
A well-established US sales event on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is new to many on the Island, but the tradition has caught on fast.
Mindful of the mob scenes that have attended Black Friday overseas, security guards kept a close watch on numbers, and closed the Phoenix doors at regular intervals.
“Toys,” declared shopper Twiggy Dill, when asked why she had come. “I’ve been here since 3am. Forty percent off is a bargain. I’m getting all my Christmas shopping done. I can’t wait for them to unlock and let us in.”
Ms Dill waited at the front of the line alongside Beverley Pitcher, Shandora Burrows and Chrislyn Dill. All were waiting to buy toys.
“They held a spot for me,” Ms Pitcher said. “I’ve come from St George’s, so I wasn’t going to be here hours early. I’m getting my grandson all his toys.”
She added: “I really didn’t think there would be so many people. I got here and thought, ‘What’s this?’”
Sales took place around the Island for Black Friday, such as at Gorham’s hardware store.
On Church Street, more men were in evidence outside cellular phone stores Digicel and CellOne.
“Most people are shopping for their children, but here we’re all upgrading our phones,” said Kenneth Simmons, waiting to buy a new BlackBerry Curve 8500.
At 6am, Calvin Burgess was waiting with about 50 other people for the 7am opening of CellOne, to buy a $9 BlackBerry.
“This is the same one I got at Black Friday last year for $89,” Mr Burgess said. “So I’m saving a ton of money this time, and getting an upgrade as well.”
Georgio Fox said he had napped in his car a few hours earlier.
“I got up when I heard all the cars coming in,” he said.
Digicel, meanwhile, opened its doors at 6am, with deals such as the $499 BlackBerry Curve 9300.
Fresh from her purchases at Brown and Co, proud shopper Ms Bean arrived at the CellOne queue.
“I got what I wanted,” she said. “Now I’m here to see what else is going.”
Watching the last of the queue heading into Phoenix at 6am, Mr Grundmuller called the day’s turnout “tremendous”.
“I didn’t think there would be that many,” he admitted, guessing that the first half-hour of business drew over 1,000 to the Phoenix alone.
“People are having a good time, which is good to see. One lady just told me this has brought out her hunter-gatherer instinct.”
Counting up her purchases, shopper Shayla Richardson reckoned she had spent about $350 at a 40 percent saving.
“I go to Black Friday every other year in the US, so I’m not surprised at all this,” Ms Richardson said. “I priced what I wanted online and it was still cheaper to be here.”
Behind her, a man stepped out of the store and held up a Razor dirt bike.
“Done, finished, no more,” he said.