As temperatures hovered at 34 degrees, a small but determined crowd of shoppers turned out for Black Friday sales in Lawrence County.
Tasha Sniezek of New Castle said she doesn’t often shop on Black Friday.
But this year, she got a deal on a 7.5-foot tall Christmas tree at Big Lots in Shenango Township.
“I generally will only come out if I need something special,” Sniezek said.
She said her Big Lots trip had been stress-free.
“There are a lot of people shopping, but they have enough people at the cash registers. You don’t have to wait in line for too long,” she said.
Other shoppers at Big Lots, including Jon Paugh, were looking, not buying Friday.
“We’ve got a 3-year old and a 6-year old. We are going out to see what the deals are, and getting out of the house,” Paugh said, adding that he and his family were making the rounds of local stores.
“Walmart, Petsmart, GameStop, and I am sure my wife has been other places,” Paugh, said with a laugh, adding that he was surprised at the lack of crowds.
“I wasn’t out for the late-night shopping, but this time of day isn’t nearly as bad as it has been in years past,” he said.
Shoppers at Walmart were more serious about checking off their Christmas lists. Christina Kolas and her daughter Sydney found what they were looking for — and a bargain.
“We got Madden 2020 on sale for $29,” Sydney said. “It’s usually $50.”
Christina said she was pleased to get something for her boyfriend and grandchildren at good prices.
“We got some pretty good deals,” she said.
Tara Passel of New Castle said she was out doing her usual weekly shopping at Walmart on Friday, but captured a few holiday deals, too.
The challenge, she said, would be getting her mound of purchases home on the New Castle Transit Authority bus.
As she waited for the bus, Passel and her friend repacked some items and tied bag tops to make for easier carrying.
Mike Thomas, who is a store leader at PetSmart in Union Township, said the store was quiet early but was picking up steam around lunchtime.
“We have quite a few sales going on right now,” he said. “We have a lot of the Christmas half-off sales. We have cat litter, a lot of aquariums that are half off.”
Thomas said he expected more shoppers later in the day.
“I think a lot of people went to the malls this morning, and now they are starting to trickle in here,” he said. “We are typically busy on Black Friday. It is just a matter of if we are busy early or busy late.”
Joseph Henning, a volunteer ringing the bell at a Salvation Army kettle outside Walmart, said he noticed more shoppers than usual entering the store.
“And they have been very generous making donations on their way out,” he said.
Henning, a volunteer for the past eight and one-half years, said the Salvation Army has a short collection season this year.
All money collected in the kettle campaign, he said, goes to local programs and remains in the community.
At Dunham Sports in Union Township, shoppers began coming in at 7:30 a.m. and the flow had been steady for most of the day, said Harry Hedglan, a store security guard.
“We’re seeing a good crowd,” he said.
Holiday deal-hunters might even get a chance to add a prize to their winnings this year.
Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Alex McCoy said anyone who shops locally between Nov. 24 and Dec. 19 and spends at least $150 at one time with any of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce’s 270 members is eligible for a prize.
“We’ll put your name in for a drawing for an Amazon Echo Dot or an Amazon Fire Stick,” he said.
McCoy said the Chamber is promoting the event on its Facebook page.
“We encourage people to shop locally,” he said. “If you do, we invite you to bring in the receipt and we’ll put you into the drawing.”
And the purchase doesn’t have to be one of the hot toys on Santa’s list, either.
“If you buy a car from Phil Fitts Ford, one of our members, buy a water heater from Central Heating and Plumbing or pay your insurance bill with a chamber member, it all counts,” McCoy said.
The membership list is available on the chamber’s website lawrencecountychamber.org.
“We have members throughout the county,” McCoy said.
“Not only in New Castle, but also in Ellwood City, New Wilmington and elsewhere.”
Downtown business Butz Flowers, which also has an outlet in Neshannock Township, did not see the Black Friday crowds. But the busy holiday season is not over yet, Neshannock store sales representative Kelly Argiro said.
“In my experience, on Black Friday people go to the malls and outlet stores in the morning,” Argiro said. “But when they come home, they’ll stop to see us. They should. We have a lot of nice things for the holiday.”
Both Argiro and Cory Winslow, who manned the downtown store, noted that there are bargains available at the flower shop, too.
This weekend most items are offered at a 25 percent savings. Fall items are 50 percent off.
“All but fresh cut flowers, jewelry and funeral items,” Winslow said.