Thanksgiving shopping buzz fades into calmer Black Friday

Updated November 24, 2017 - 11:15 pm

Rebecca Dahan was so eager to greet her holiday rush that she opened shop at the Fashion Show mall a half-hour before sunrise on Black Friday.

It wasn’t until just before 9 a.m., nearly three hours later, that Dahan’s first customer arrived at her employer’s art store.

He left only his phone number.

As shoppers strolled in and out of the Strip mall’s upper-end department stores, Dahan was left alone amid a sea of upbeat holiday jingles. The lack of business, she said, dumbfounded her.

“The last two weeks was dead. I was thinking ‘OK, people are waiting for Black Friday,’” she said. “Today for retail stores is a wake-up call.”

Summerlin success

While Dahan waited for customers, other shops in the Las Vegas Valley fared far better.

By the early afternoon Downtown Summerlin’s sidewalks were awash with shoppers browsing the outdoor mall.

The crowds made for a record-breaking business day for Native American jewelry store owner Aaron Sidranski.

Sidranksi said his business, Silver Post, had been packed since 9 a.m. A social media advertising campaign had even netted him an over-the-phone sale of $550 to a customer in Massachusetts.

He summarized the day as “incredible.”

“In nine years this is probably the most consistent business we’ve seen,” he said. “I actually lost a small number of sales because we haven’t been able to ring people up fast enough.”

Down the street, an influx of buyers boosted a local store named Sports Town.

Store manager Angela Gardonio said its vast inventory of Vegas Golden Knights-branded items — “everything from steak knives to slippers” — was in high demand. More than 100 items associated with the hockey team had been sold as of 2 p.m., including 15 or so replica jerseys.

“Everybody wants that jersey,” Gardonio said. “It’s got Vegas glam all over it.”

‘The hype’

According to a National Retail Federation survey, 69 percent of Americans plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend. About 70 percent of prospective shoppers said they were planning to shop on Black Friday.

Many started even earlier.

On Thursday, Nigel Inciong arrived at a Henderson Best Buy at midnight after Thanksgiving dinner with his daughter and his friends, making the electronics store his last stop for the night.

“It’s an experience,” Inciong said. “It’s about the hype.”

“There’s no more Thanksgiving. Now, shopping starts right after dinner,” he added. “It’s a religion.”

On Thanksgiving night, shoppers rushed in and out of a Henderson Toys ‘R’ Us well past its posted closing time.

“There’s kind of an energy to it,” said Jenny Frizelle, who went to the toy store to buy Legos for her daughter.

Frizelle, a mother of eight, said she usually spends about eight hours shopping on Black Friday. She says it gives her more peace of mind to buy gifts directly from a store.

“There’s no panicking about whether it’ll come on time or if it’ll be broken during shipping,” she said.

A mellower attitude

At the Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson on Friday, the Thanksgiving Day foot traffic at J.C. Penney was already beginning to seem like a distant memory.

Upon opening Thursday, close to 1,000 people were lined outside the department store, eager to snatchthe best deals before it was too late.

But the crowd Friday morning sauntered through the aisles, browsing at leisure.

The difference of a day was palpable to Charity Rice, 43, of east Las Vegas.

“The atmosphere (today) is definitely more mellow,” she said Friday. “I wish I had gone yesterday. It’s more fun, the rush of the crowds and to get what you want for a deal.”

The scene extended throughout much of the mall. A distinct lack of Christmas music contributed to the morning’s relative serenity.

Joshua Cox, a 32-year-old resident of North Las Vegas who shops at Galleria every Black Friday, said he noticed a change from last year.

“It’s way more relaxed this year. … There’s not as many people at the mall,” he said. “Last year when we came here, we couldn’t find a parking spot. It was crazy.”

‘Just another day’

If brick-and-mortar businesses take a hit this year, Dahan said, she believes online retailers like Amazon are to blame. She’s now considering a change in careers.

“It’s not that people aren’t shopping or spending money. They’re just shopping online,” Dahan said. “Retail stores, I don’t think, have enough oxygen to stay on this Earth.”

“Black Friday is just another day,” she added.

But there still are thousands of locals willing to brave early hours for once-a-year sales.

Cortina Anderson, 43, of Henderson, said she planned to spend close to six hours Friday at the Fashion Show shopping for clothes with her mother and 12-year-daughter.

“Especially when you’re shopping with teenagers, you want to make sure the size is correct because they’re constantly growing,” she said. “Also, it’s kind of fun to come out.”

Slow and steady

Not everyone who contributed to Black Friday sales felt the need to compete.

Debbie Johnson, 57, Las Vegas, stopped by a Target on Cheyenne Avenue to fill her prescription for medication in the afternoon.

To pass the time, she walked down the toy aisle.

Johnson emerged from the store with a filled shopping cart full of discounted foam dart guns, remote control cars and toy drones for her grandsons. She attributed her stress-free shopping experience to not trying to be first in line.

“If you can wait and come later and you don’t have something specific you’re looking for, you’ll have a much easier time,” she said.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter. Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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