Black Friday brings large crowds out for bargains

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 24, 2012

By David Vitrano  

and Richard Meek


LAPLACE – Black Friday took on a bit of a different look this year as many stores — including some of LaPlace’s larger retailers such as Wal-Mart and Stage — opted to open Thursday evening instead of Friday morning.

As a result, by Friday morning when the shopping madness typically began in year’s past, the crowds had already begun to thin out a bit, and although many of the deepest discounts were already sold out by the time the sun started to rise. Still, many bargains were still available and the shopping remained brisk throughout the sale period.

Traditionally, St. John Parish offers a bit more of a relaxed Black Friday experience compared to the long lines and cutthroat shoppers found at locations in Metairie and New Orleans.

“I had a great time,” said Eileen Faucheux. “There weren’t too many people. They told me there were people waiting in line this morning.”

Faucheux noted that she was glad she didn’t venture farther to do her shopping.

“Shop local,” she said. “It’s easier with less hassle, and I found everything I wanted.”

For some, shopping local means more than staying in the parish. Local small business owners also take advantage of the shopping frenzy, although their efforts are often overshadowed by the sales at the larger chains.

Carolyn Joseph, manager of Sally Beauty in LaPlace, said her rush usually comes after the crowds have begun to thin at the larger stores.

“Most of my customers will come after they have finished their other shopping, but we’ve been busy,” she said. “Most people don’t realize we open at 7 a.m. on Black Friday. We will be very busy soon.”

The St. John Sheriff’s Office also has its Black Friday routine, but it doesn’t involve shopping. As usual, patrols at the busiest shopping centers have been stepped up, and the observation tower has found its usual holiday home in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Additionally, speed bumps and stop signs have been placed throughout the Riverland Shopping Center to make the parking lot safer for pedestrians.

Despite the ample shopping opportunities available in the River Parishes, for some Black Friday is about the experience as much as the shopping.

Three River Parishes women began what was ultimately a 48-hour retail pilgrimage Wednesday at 9 p.m. when they perched in front of K-Mart on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie awaiting the 6 a.m. Thursday opening. Christine Sineau of Luling was on the hunt for a 32-inch television, which K-Mart and other outlets were selling for less than $100.

But that was just the first stop of a long journey that was scheduled to include stops at Sears and Wal-Mart in Metairie and culminating Friday morning at Stage in LaPlace.

“We’ve done a lot more sitting than shopping,” Sineau said Thursday night, whose shopping posse included her daughter, Mary Bourgeois of Garyville, and Cameron Hollister, also of Garyville.

Upon bagging the 32-inch bounty early Thursday morning, the trio traveled to Target at Clearview Mall, also in Metairie and a short drive from K-Mart. But hunger pangs were calling and a full Thanksgiving spread was obviously out of the question, so Bourgeois was dispatched to a nearby fast food restaurant for a breakfast of hamburgers and fries.

By midmorning, the line began to swell, allowing the trio of women to make new friends, including Danielle Seaton of New Orleans. By nightfall, Hollister and Seaton had become pals, leaving a visitor amazed they had met just hours before.

Seaton had originally joined the line at Sears, also located at Clearview, but didn’t like the odds when she learned only 11 televisions were available and she was 13th in line. So she meandered down to Target where she met her new friends.

The ladies’ shopping lists were varied and included makeup and various electronic devices.

If all went according to plan, Sineau said they would be finished by midmorning Friday, in time for a brief nap before watching LSU play Arkansas.