Pittsburgh's Black Friday

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'We refuse to go on Thanksgiving. You have to draw the line somewhere.'

Karen Madden, of Moon, arrived at the Mall at Robinson about 6:30 a.m. with her mother and sister, expecting the deals and crowds they’ve become accustomed to in the past five years they have gone Black Friday shopping as a family.
But while the deals were there — retail outlets such as RUUM, Gap and Express were discounting all of their merchandise by 40 or 50 percent — the shoppers weren’t.
"I’ve been here on a Friday night when it’s more crowded,” she said. “I feel like I could have slept in.”
Waiting for her sister to finish shopping, Ms. Madden was even contemplating buying a coffee at Starbucks — a purchase that was unthinkable in previous years, when the line stretched dozens deep.
She and her mother speculated that perhaps the staggered store opening times meant that crowds were more spread out, or that people preferred the convenience of online shopping or were still feeling the effects of the economic downturn.
They had consciously decided not to shop yesterday, even though many more stores were open than in years past.
“We refuse to go on Thanksgiving,” said Ms. Madden. “You have to draw the line somewhere.”
Dan Wareham, of Robinson, also noticed reduced crowds. As is customary, he and his wife arrived at the Mall at Robinson about 4:30 a.m. in their annual Black Friday shopping mission to spoil their granddaughters.
“I got here at the same time last year and I couldn’t find a place to park — this year, I’m right outside the door,” he said. “I was shocked. The stores are empty.”
Unlike many other shopping establishments, the Mall at Robinson did not open on Thanksgiving, waiting instead until midnight. From midnight to 3 a.m., the mall offered incentives such as free massages and courtesy pedi-cabs delivering packages to customers’ cars.
Anya Sostek / Post-Gazette staff

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Painter’s tape guides the hordes through the Black Friday labyrinth

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It took Jerry, a Target maintenance and facilities worker, about 12 hours and 20 rolls of blue painter’s tape to place arrows and other cues on the store’s floors yesterday. The directions, he said, kept checkout lines orderly.

"Helps people from arguing," he said.

He expects peeling them off the floors it will take four hours.

Molly Born / Post Gazette staff

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Longer Black Friday hours spread crowds, but lines still deep

More than 12 hours after it opened, the checkout line at Kohl’s in South Strabane snaked around almost half the store.

Denise and Stephanie Satanek were waiting near the end of it with a Crock-Pot and a blouse. The mother and daughter, from Uniontown, were planning to visit the outlets next, then have lunch in Bethel Park.

"This is the worst part of it," Denise, 53, said of the ever-growing line, adding later, "It’s worth the wait."

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She and other women in the line agreed that Kohl’s offered some of the best deals around today. The store displayed signs in the windows boasting, “Only One Choice for Black Friday.”

At the nearby J.C. Penney, employees handed customers snow globes with a special coupon.

Michelle Colbert, 38, of Washington, said she’s staying away from the big-box stores and made only a single stop this year. Since some businesses opened on Thanksgiving this year, she said, the crowds seemed to have fanned out across several hours, making her trip easier.

"I thought it would be safe to venture out," she said.

Among her items purchased at J.C. Penney’s were Steelers apparel for her family in Arizona. Her brother-in-law is a former NFL player: Lance Brown, a defensive back whose five years in the league were spent with the Cardinals, Steelers and Bills.

Molly Born / Post-Gazette staff

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Silver and gold, silver and gold

When you spot two 20-something guys sitting alone in the outlet mall food court having a meal, you can’t help but ask: “So, what brings you out today?”

Turns out, a really, really good reason.

This 24-year-old coal miner from West Virginia bought his girlfriend an engagement ring today at the Kay Jewelers at Tanger Outlets. We can’t tell you his name — we wouldn’t want her to find out.

"I feel like it’s the right thing," he said. "I’m definitely sure about her. I’m going to be a dad. … But I thought about [this] before."

His 24-year-old friend saw an ad online for a deal at the Kay’s here and remembered his buddy saying he was planning on popping the question.

The pair, who graduated from high school together in Ohio, arrived at Tanger about 5 a.m. They spent about 90 minutes in the jewelry store, finally settling on a 14-carat-gold ring for $2,900.

"[An employee] said if I would have bought it yesterday, it would have been $6,000," he said.

And they’re not done. The friends planned to stop by the Coach outlet next so the man could buy his girlfriend a gift.

He plans to propose on Valentine’s Day, 2014.

His friend, from Columbus, did most of his shopping last night at Walmart in New Martinsville, W.Va., about two hours southwest of Pittsburgh.

He picked up gifts for his family and a queen-size inflatable mattress for $25, regularly about $150, he said.

Molly Born / Post-Gazette staff

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