Across the nation, the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest, most chaotic shopping days of the year. But “Black Friday,” as it’s come to be known in the retail world, is anything but fast-paced for University-area retailers.
On Friday, as shoppers lined up by the hundreds, and even thousands, at area malls and big-box locations, the business districts closest to the University’s Minneapolis campus – Dinkytown, Stadium Village and West Bank – sat eerily quiet.
With the exception of Bruegger’s and Al’s Breakfast, there wasn’t so much as a single person visible in any of the area’s stores in the wee morning hours.
Contrast that to the scene at The Quarry shopping center, just a short distance away, where at least 100 people were queued in front of Target five minutes before the store’s 6 a.m. “door-buster” opening time.
By 6:02 a.m., the majority of the Target shoppers were making their pilgrimages to the electronics department, where it wasn’t uncommon to see two, or even three TVs snatched up by a single buyer.
Minutes later these same shoppers were speeding toward the checkout – their bodies hunched over carts full of treasure, eyes fixated on the path to the registers, one hand balancing a TV box protruding from the cart while the other hand steered.
University kinesiology student Stacey Stark was among those to arrive at Target just before 6 a.m. Friday, though she wasn’t as intense as some of her fellow shoppers.
Stark, who said she didn’t come for anything in particular other than DVDs, shopped with her mom as part of an after-Thanksgiving tradition.
Stark didn’t seem surprised that shops near the University campus didn’t have lines out the door starting at 5 and 6 a.m., or that no retailers decided to open.
“(It’s) probably because everyone went home. No one’s around the ‘U,’ ” she said.
Psychology graduate student John Kim was also shopping at The Quarry Target store, shortly after the store’s early opening.
“I was up anyway. I had a late night,” Kim said.
Kim said he and several friends skipped a night’s sleep, choosing instead to head to the Albertville Premium Outlets, where stores opened at midnight.
“We just decided to be adventurous,” he said.
Things were “a little more hectic” in Albertville than they were at Target, Kim said.
Patrick Popehn, the assistant manager of Gold Country, a Gopher apparel store with locations in Dinkytown and Stadium Village, said while after Thanksgiving is the start of a busy sales period, Gold Country did not open its doors Friday any earlier than usual.
Goldy’s Locker Room, Gold Country’s mall equivalent owned by the same parent company, did open early, however, to coincide with special mall hours, Popehn said.
“Everyone seems to be away from campus during this time anyway,” Popehn went on to say. “I think that’s probably the reason why we don’t do it (here).”
Gold Country’s business hours are sometimes adjusted to the University’s schedule, particularly during on-campus sporting events and during the holidays.
Popehn said his store typically extends its business hours a week or so after Thanksgiving, when more people are on campus.
Gold Country does most of its holiday business in the two weeks prior to Christmas, which, perhaps not coincidentally, is right when many students are finishing up finals and preparing to leave campus for winter break.
The nature of the businesses adjacent to campus – with far more restaurants than stores – might also be a reason so few campus retailers participate in the Black Friday “early-bird” tradition, he said.
“I think retail is pretty limited around here,” Popehn said.