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Black Friday shoppers hit the Southland

Karen Podrazik WilmingtCarlPruim Tinley Park check mall map find their next store while shopping Black Friday OrlSquare Mall OrlPark Illinois

Karen Podrazik, of Wilmington, and Carla Pruim, of Tinley Park, check the mall map to find their next store while shopping on Black Friday at Orland Square Mall in Orland Park, Illinois, Friday, November 23, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media

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Updated: December 26, 2012 6:27AM



Retailers’ strategy to bump up Black Friday shopping hours to late Thursday night seemed to be paying off in many ways, at least at Orland Square Mall.

While many shoppers hit the scene at midnight, when the mall officially opened, there was a steady stream of “well-behaved” shoppers throughout Friday morning, according to Gayle Gleespen, director of marketing at the recently renovated mall. Some folks waited for an hour and a half for the mall to open, but some individual merchants had staggered opening times.

While Sears opened at 8 p.m. and Starbucks at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night to caffeinate waiting customers, J.C. Penney waited until 6 a.m. Friday to open its doors, and still had shoppers lined up, as did Apple and Victoria’s Secret, Gleespen said.

By 8 a.m. Friday — a somewhat more normal shopping time — there were plenty of parking spaces at local shopping centers, and still plenty of deals to be had.

Some who had been at the mall since the wee hours either were napping on the floor or recharging with Cinnabons and coffee.

After nearly 12 hours of shopping, Derrick Barr, of Country Club Hills, dozed in a chair, while his cousins, Shamarr Currie and Cameron Clark, slept on the floor, waiting for Barr’s mother to finish her shopping.

“They really wanted to come,” Angela Caffey-Barr said of the sleepy trio.

Her best deal was found a few blocks from the mall at Bed Bath & Beyond, which was doubling its coupons on Black Friday, saving her about $300. But she also bragged about the $59 pingpong tabletop she got from Sears.

“Yeah, I did good,” she said.

Catching their second wind were Michelle Domecki, of Frankfort, and five family members from Morris, Aurora and Plainfield.

For them, shopping on Black Friday has been a “family tradition” for more than 15 years.

Despite the chance to shop earlier, they waited until 3 a.m.

While they weren’t all together for Thanksgiving, they spent the day at various homes with Black Friday ads spread out over kitchen tables, texting each other about where they would go and how they would shop.

“We were in bed by 9 p.m. (Thursday),” Domecki said.

By 8 a.m. Friday, she figured she had three-fourths of her holiday shopping done.

“The crowd is not as bad this year,” she said. “We’re not aggressive shoppers.”

“Yeah, we’ve never knocked over anyone,” said her daughter. Angela Roudis, of Morris.

This year, they also brought a “rookie,” Becky Pasqua, of Plainfield, who now claims to be “addicted” to this shopping experience.

“I want to do it again next year,” she said.

They planned to end their shopping expedition with a Bloody Mary over lunch.

As the midnight shoppers headed out to lunch or to bed, the second wave arrived, including the New Lenox mother-daughter team of Maxine Macek and Lois Branyik — Black Friday shoppers for the past 30 years.

“We get a jump on our Christmas shopping, then go to lunch,” Macek said.

Branyik was armed with computer printouts of exact items she was seeking. They were just getting started at 7:30 a.m.

“I don’t stand in line. It doesn’t pay off,” Branyik said.

Their spouses sipped coffee at the food court and expected to be there awhile. Their job was to hold onto the shopping bags and take them to the car.

“It’s fun to people watch,” Chris Branyik said. He said he might do a little shopping but was “biding his time.”

“I hate shopping,” said his father-in-law, Richard Macek. “Women can spot something a mile away and you better get out of their way. After 56 years (of marriage), I’ve learned.”



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