'Black Friday' lives up to name

Posted: Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Droves of yuletide shoppers once again are flocking to the stores and bustling through the chaotic aisles, all in competition for that perfect gift. This can mean only one thing: It's the most wonderful time of the year again.

It begins the day after Thanksgiving typically known in the retail industry as "Black Friday," because it's a day many store owners can count on their balance sheets moving from the red to the black.

And once again, peninsula resident proved it's not called the busiest shopping day of the year for nothing.

"We've been doing quite well," said Dave Gilbertson, assistant manager at Alaska Industrial Hardware Inc.

"Our daily revenue was double the day after Thanksgiving," Gilbertson said. "It was a big surge, better than last year. We moved some products quicker than we thought and have had to do some extra ordering."

Gilbertson said lots of power tools have been selling, as well as the usual winter items like heaters, kerosene and ice-melting products.

Brian Alexander, the owner of A-1 Enterprises Inc., said the snowmachine business has been booming, as well.

"Business has been great. We got off to a late start with the late snow, but now that it's fallen we're selling sleds faster than we can put them together," Alexander said.

"Lots of four-wheelers and snowplows have been selling, too, and parts and accessories are flying out the door," he added.

Alexander said as steady as business is, it still hasn't reached its climax yet.

"We're extremely busy, but there's always a rush the last two weeks before Christmas."

Although the old familiar businesses are doing well with their sales, a few new stores also have started to do well for themselves this holiday season.

"The day after Thanksgiving we had 10 to 15 people lined up outside before we even opened," said Bria Johnston, store manager at the Allen and Petersen Cooking and Appliance Center.

The store recently opened in the Safeway shopping plaza in Kenai.

"We didn't expect the amount of people we've gotten," Johnston said. "We've had a few shelves clear."

Like many of the other stores, Allen and Petersen had reordered to ensure its supply continues to meet the public's demand.

Johnston said many of the items moving quickly are holiday related.

"Lots of Christmas hand towels, boxed ciders and other cutesy things," she said.

Although not new to the area, Gottschalks recently got a new location, and it has made things better for holiday shoppers, according to general manager Linda New-land.

"We're having really good Christmas sales with expansion of our store," she said. "We're seeing a lot of new faces and also a lot of people we haven't seen in awhile."

Just as with many other peninsula businesses, Newland said the day after Thanksgiving was anything but slow.

"It was wild," she said. "We were really busy and things have stayed steady, but around the mid-part of last week store traffic really started to increase again."

Newland said things may be picking up as people realize there are only four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, with the latter getting very near.

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