Black Friday shopping and the new retail reality

Shoppers overnighted at Destiny USA, as the mall opened at midnight for Black Friday

No question the shoppers have spoken about earlier, and longer store hours on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and it's looking like Destiny USA's gamble of pulling a mall-wide all-nighter has paid off.

For the first time in its 22-year history, the mall opened at midnight. Not surprisingly, there were long lines at Best Buy. Store manager Nick Dunsler says they were the longest lines ever for the electronics retailer. But other retailers, who went along with the early opening, were pleasantly surprised.

At beauty supply store Trade Secret, business was steady through early morning. They decided not to open their in-store salon, but at 4am got a request for a haircut, and are now thinking about extending for next year. "We're all surprised, honestly," says Melanie Angarano, who's worked there 11 years. "I think --you know--we weren't sure how it was going to work, hit or miss. It turned out pretty pleasant, turned out pretty pleasant, so..."

Mall manager Rob Schoeneck, who also pulled an all-nighter, was smiling by early morning. "Just the energy here," he says. "It was more successful than we thought it would be."

At Best Buy, by 5am they had signs posted outside the store that their to 50 items were sold out. "The door busters are all gone," manager Nick Dunsler told us, "but we still have a lot of good deals and product out's all about the spurts, and we're getting ready for the next one."

The reality of retail this Black Friday, is that it's not enough to do one big push at store's opening. Around 7am, the 'first' shoppers were leaving, or hitting the Food Court for caffeine and protein. The next wave was coming in, and more 'waves' were expected through the day. "The busiest time historically--22 years for Carousel now Destiny--has always been 11 in the morning til 3 or 4 in the afternoon," says Schoeneck.

And this year, the Canadiens are helping with those waves. Several tour buses were expected today alone. One woman, who drove herself down from Brampton, Ontario, told us her first Black Friday 'is fabulous.'

It was also the first overnight shopping experience for a group of friends from Fayetteville- Manlius High School, who were shopping for themselves, not for gifts. They got up at 1am to get to Destiny. "We love to shop and wanted clothes," Mary Gatenby told us. Nicole Amico told us she had to stand in line to get into Victoria's Secret. Sadie Hulslander says there were 250 people waiting there, but she was happy at Hollister's 50% off on jeans.

Alyxis Perez waited in line at Forever 21. Annie Perrotti also experienced lines for the first time, but said it was exciting. All also bought yoga pants, and said they'll be back for more. Kimmy Primo said she'd even go out today again, to be serious about Christmas gifts.

Not everyone started early on Black Friday. Ra-Lin's followed the more traditional path, closed on Thanksgiving, and not opening until 8 this morning, though there was a crowd waiting. The owner told us he feels a bit dinosaur-ish, though the long-time local retailer did 'enhance' sales by sending notices to preferred customers, offering the chance to shop before Thanksgiving, at Black Friday prices. They also plan to offer sale prices on Saturday, for buy local day.

'It's a sea change for retailing,' says the Post-Standard's 'Storefront' reporter Bob Niedt. 'Everything's changed now. I think people are going to continue to shop earlier and earlier...and I think eventually, I think the malls will eventually be open all day on Thanksgiving Day.'