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Merchants see big crowds

“Fantastic” is how area merchants are describing this year’s results of the biggest shopping day of the season.

Black Friday dawned throughout Covington County with customers waiting in line at many area stores, whose opening times for special bargains were staggered throughout the morning.

At 4 a.m., more than 100 customers waited for the doors to open at J.C. Penney, store manager Dennis Cockrell said.

“That parking lot was completely full before 4 a.m.,” Cockrell said. “Last year, we had about 50 people waiting for us to open. This year, it was 100 or more. I think shoppers knew what they were looking for and turned out for the bargains.

“This day, sales have been fantastic,” he said. “They’ve far exceeded our expectations. We’re thrilled to say the least.”

By 4:45 a.m., there were no buggies available at Wal-Mart, and at 5 a.m. shoppers began grabbing hot items such as flat-screen televisions, laptops and an array of video games and toys.

At 5:50 a.m., between 30-35 people waited for the 6 a.m. opening at Burke’s Outlet, store manager May Thornton said.

“This was the first Black Friday for us, and I think it helped the whole shopping center,” said Thornton, referring to the Sanford Station, which also houses Cato’s and Fred’s.

Factory Connection store manager Jesse Walden said a crowd of 15 or so were in line at 7 a.m. to take advantage of the store’s “door buster” items.

“I can tell you right now, sales have been amazing for us,” Walden said. “Just a fabulous day.”

Walden said turnout was so good, that, just after lunch, the store was second in its district in total sales.