By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Some local shoppers hit the stores early this year, to avoid the Black Friday crowds. Local merchants said they anticipated large crowds today, and they expect to stay busy until Christmas.
Connie Pike stopped in Roberson & Dupree Shoe Store in downtown Tarboro Monday with her friend Beth Weathersbee to pay on her layaway for a pair of Uggs boots she purchased as a Christmas gift. Uggs are the hot item Roberson & Dupree is selling this holiday season, and the store has about 30 different varieties in stock.
“I kinda like to shop a little bit along the way,” Pike said. “I like shopping odd times, like during the week, because on weekends it’s just crazy.”
Weathersbee said she looks around in the store a couple of times a week, after having lunch downtown. On Monday, she was in search of a pair of boots for Christmas.
“I’ve done a lot of shopping already,” Weathersbee said. “I may go shopping (Black Friday), but I won’t be up early. I don’t want to fight the crowds.”
Store manager Mike Everette said the crowds usually roll into his store in the afternoon on Black Friday, after hitting the so-called doorbusters at the big box stores earlier.
“When they start with doorbusters … I think you’ll see it right on until Christmas Eve,” Everette said. He said Christmas Eve is typically the busiest day of the year at the store, because some people wait until “the last minute.”
Maxway assistant manager Steve Joyner said Christmas Eve would be the store’s “busiest day of the year for sure.” He said the Black Friday crowd has been steady the last couple of years. Christmas decorations including trees and flowers are among Maxway’s holiday offerings.
Earthleen Hinton of Pinetops came into Maxway in search of a wreath Monday. She said she once had a bad experience in the crowd on Black Friday, and did most of her Christmas shopping early this year.
After shopping, decorating the house and putting up the Christmas tree are Black Friday traditions for many households.
“When people get back in from Christmas shopping for their family, they’ll get into decorating mode,” said Melissa Simms, floral designer for All About Flowers in Tarboro. “Close to lunchtime is when we’ll have people start coming in and out.”
All About Flowers offers all the trimmings for decorating a home —– bows, ornaments, tree toppers, wreaths, poinsettias that can serve as centerpieces, even Christmas cactuses.
Ray Manning of Lawrence said his wife does all the Christmas shopping, but he took a moment to look at the Fraser fir trees while shopping for hardware at Marrow-Pitt Monday afternoon.
“They’re beautiful trees,” Manning said. “Sometimes we get a real one (Christmas tree), sometimes we use artificial. I like the real ones best. They’re just prettier.”
Marrow-Pitt’s lawn and garden specialist Bernice Pitt said the Fraser firs had been a popular-selling item since they came in last Friday.
“We get all of our trees from North Carolina,” she said. “We’ve gotten them from the same family for 20 or so years, so we know what’s coming.”
Pitt surveyed the store’s Christmas items Monday – children’s toys, party items, poinsettias, even a Christmas palm tree – in preparation for the store’s biggest sales day of the year. She said her hope was that people would be lined up at the door to get in on Black Friday, but the store’s business that day all depends on Tarboro’s economy. She said the store’s philosophy to provide quality service helps in tough economic times.
“Service is definitely what sets us apart … good prices and great service. You can walk in here and somebody can help you,” she said.