As rock band Steely Dan sang: “When Black Friday comes, I’m going to claim my property.”
That’s what businesses across Pulaski County are doing this weekend – not just Fridays, but Saturdays as well – and in many cases, throughout November: claiming the holiday shopping interest. local consumers.
Stores large and small engaged in the post-Thanksgiving tradition known as “Black Friday” – in other words, when they do so much business that their profit margins are “in the dark”, not “in the red” as the words say. They include large national retailers like JCPenney and Walmart, and small local retailers like Paul’s Discount and Anderson Office Supply.
One thing they all seem to have in common: The 2021 “Black Friday” event made them feel good.
“The parking lot is full,” said Joe Neikirk, owner of Paul’s Discount, on Friday. Paul’s Discount, located at Kentucky 2227, has been supplying a variety of products to Pulaski County for over 60 years, ranging from athletic equipment to designer clothing, and during that time Neikirk has learned not to bet too much. heavy on Black Friday Fortunes – but it’s a big deal.
“Black Friday doesn’t make or break us,” he said, “but it’s the biggest weekend of the year.”
The store actually started its sale on Wednesday, with a few specials, and Saturday can be even better than Friday – appropriate, as it’s nationwide ‘Small Business Saturday’, a time devoted to support. entrepreneurs closer to home in their community, and Paul’s Discount is one of Pulaski’s best-known small businesses.
Of course, “every Saturday is the biggest day of the week,” Neikirk noted. That said, “it’s a bit early to tell, but it’s on the way to beating last year’s (Black Friday),” he noted.
At Paul’s Discount, people aren’t looking for the best deals on electronics or housewares – Black Friday’s biggest sellers are guns and ammunition, “which is a change from last year. , because we had no ammunition, ”said Neikirk, indicating difficulty having it in stock a year ago, as well as pocket knives and outerwear, especially the durable Carhartt brand.
At Somerset Mall, major retailers are recovering from a tough 2020, Ray Stennett, managing director of local JCPenney, said Black Friday sales “are going very well as far as the Somerset market is concerned” – but they have been it for a while now. Last year, in response to COVID-19 conditions, many businesses split their Black Friday deals throughout the month, and JCPenney pursued something similar in 2021.
“We started some Black Friday items in early November, and everything else that wasn’t already a Black Friday deal went on sale on November 19,” Stennett said. “Customers were able to shop (for vacation deals) all last week.”
Still, many people just like to go out shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and while there hasn’t been the line at the door that previous years have seen – Stennett said they did. no special giveaways like before that would attract bird customers early – store traffic increased steadily throughout the day. By 2 p.m., Stennett said, the store had done almost as much business as during all of Black Friday last year.
“It’s much better than last year, 100% (different),” he said. “Last year, at the height of COVID, we didn’t know what the whole holiday season was going to bring. It’s definitely a different shopping environment, not 100% like in 2019, but it’s pretty damn close . “
The items JCPenney saw selling well during Black Friday tended to be “practical,” Stennett noted – clothing, especially cold-weather items like sweaters, flannel shirts and scarves, as well as clothing. household items, such as bedding and appliances.
The mall landscape itself contributed to the other big seller, jewelry. Stennett pointed out that two large jewelers at Somerset Shopping Center no longer operate there, opening the market to JCPenney; “The jewelry department is booming right now. “
On the other side of the mall, Belk is the other big store. Sales manager Michael Tilley reported to the Commonwealth Journal that the lines were long and the store was “doing well” during the Black Friday shopping season.
Walmart is another large national retailer in Somerset that regularly sees large-scale Black Friday deals. Local store manager Scott McPeek said on Friday things were going “very well” with “very good customer traffic”, especially as the day wore on.
Like Stennett, McPeek noted that things are different from what they were before anyone ever heard of the term “COVID-19,” but all that means is consumers are shopping for. different ways, for example using the website the day before to place an order and then pick it up in store or have it delivered to their home.
“We have seen more customers using the online options this year,” he said. “We made it possible for customers to buy everything on sale also online before the event. (In-store business) is not as important as the pre-COVID years, but it is more important than the year. last, and online, most channels are considerably busier this year. “
Walmart has spread things out throughout the month as well, with a sales event the first and second week of November; the traditional Black Friday marks the third.
At Walmart, the electronics department is still a Black Friday focal point, and that’s still true this year; “We had 40-inch televisions (which are selling well),” McPeek said. “TVs and video games are doing well. … Electronics are just as popular as ever.”
The Pioneer Woman cookware set is also popular, a top seller every year, as well as a “punch” on $ 5 pillows, McPeek said. He added that there were also a lot of great deals on clothes and jeans.
“I think we’re going to have a very successful event,” he said. “It’s very safe, no incidents.”
Another company that has invested heavily in electronics for Black Friday is a local business – Anderson Office Supply in downtown Somerset. Like Paul’s Discount, Anderson Office Supply has been a part of the local business community for over 60 years, and owner Harold Hurt has seen his share of Black Friday events.
This year, the store has put on sale computers in particular, with a very special offer: buy one computer, get the second at 50% off. This applied to Dell and Apple machines, desktops and laptops.
“We’re doing really well,” Hurt said. “Santa is going to bring a lot of computers.”
In particular, an “all-in-one machine” is perhaps the best seller for the North Main Street store, which hopes to continue in business throughout the weekend.
“This sale will continue over the next few days,” Hurt said Friday. “We look forward to Small Business Saturday.”