Shopping bargains to continue through weekend in Beaufort County

cconley@islandpacket.comNovember 23, 2012 

Baby strollers did double duty as shopping carts for Pooler, Ga., residents Lauren Schimmel, left, Jessica Barr and her 2-year-old son, Jacob, during their Black Friday expedition to Tanger Outlet Centers 2 in Bluffton.

JAY KARR/STAFF PHOTO

Black Friday is over, but holiday bargains aren't ending just yet.

Many local shops in Old Town Bluffton and downtown Beaufort are participating in Small Business Saturday events that will feature markdowns, special offers and other incentives.

Meanwhile, major retailers such as Staples and Best Buy, which offered special Black Friday "door-buster" sales, are running promotions and discounts through the weekend. Many merchants at the Tanger Outlet Centers, which opened at 10 p.m. Thursday for the second annual Moonlight Madness shopping event, also will extend sales through Sunday.

"Nearly all of the tenants have really aggressive sales through the weekend," said LaDonna Shamlou, general manager of the outlets in greater Bluffton.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to eclipse $586 billion this year, a 4.1 percent rise over last year. Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, the group says, kicking of a shopping season that accounts for up to 40 percent of some stores' annual sales.

Based on initial reactions from area merchants, the holiday sales are off to a fast start.

Sherrie Mack, manager of the Best Buy in Bluffton, said shoppers lined up long before the store opened at midnight. The hottest-selling items were TVs, laptop and tablet computers, and Blu-Ray discs.

"I've seen so many people with handfuls of movies," she said.

Although traffic slowed from about 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., the store was packed again by 11 a.m. with shoppers buying computers, smartphones and other gadgets.

Among them was Will Straughn, 26, of Richmond, Va. He bought an Apple MacBook Pro and said he was drawn by the discounts.

"Apple stuff rarely goes on sale," said Straughn.

Sales also were brisk Friday at Kmart, Belk and Walmart in Beaufort, according to store officials.

By noon Friday, parking spaces were at a premium at Tanger, as shoppers scoured Polo Outlet, Le Creuset and about 90 other stores.

"It was great. The crowds were very festive ... and we heard a lot of comments about the great deals (people) were getting," said Shamlou, the general manager.

A few miles away in Old Town Bluffton, shoppers were out, but the pace was much slower, as families strolled along Calhoun Street, browsing art galleries and locally owned shops.

It was the first Black Friday for Kerry Arnholt, owner of Wild Whisper Children's Shoppe. Arnholt was pleasantly surprised by the amount of business.

"The temperature is perfect, and people are going from store to store, having lunch and just enjoying the day," Arnholt said, noting that many shoppers were interested in taking their time, rather than fighting for bargains.

"It's more people who are not wanting to be hurried or in a crowd," she said.

Many retailers in downtown Beaufort and Old Town also are participating in Small Business Saturday, an event organized by American Express. Many shops are opening early today and offering sales and other promotions.

Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.

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Workers weary, relieved in 'Black Friday' aftermath, Nov. 25, 2012

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