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Big-Box Stores Start Midnight 'Black Friday' Openings, Glen Retailer Opts for Early Deals

The biggest stores in the area want a head start on holiday bargain sales; an upstart small retailer will beat them all by almost two days.

“The Midnight Special” will be playing on both sides of Willow Road this year as the last seconds of Thanksgiving yield to the famed “Black Friday” shopping frenzy, the busiest retail day of the year.

and Kohl’s, twin anchors of The Shops of Willow Creek on the south side of Willow Road, will open their doors at midnight Friday for the first time to handle sleep-deprived bargain hunters. Across the street in the Willow Festival Shopping Center, will join its big-box competitors with its inaugural midnight opening.

As the huge stores fight it out for the nocturnal throngs, at least one new small store -- Vintage Nest in the middle of --  is running counter to the maddening crowd, staging a “Black Wednesday.”

All the while, an area retail and electronics stalwart, , will keep close to normal hours on “Black Friday,” preferring to give its employees the holiday off in preparation for an “all-hands-on-deck” staffing scenario the next day.

Kohl’s open all 24 hours

Kohl’s will have the longest “Black Friday” of all after opening at 3 a.m. on the previous “Black Friday.” All outlets will be open the full 24 hours that day, one more hour than Target, which will close at 11 p.m. Friday. Among the bargains will be 20 to 50 percent or more reductions on select electronics, such as a $149.99 Vivitar 12.1 MP high-definition digital camcorder sold at $59.99. A 50 percent cut is available on the entire stock of toys from Fisher-Price, Playskool, Little Tikes, Barbie, Disney Princess, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Tonka, Crayola and Play-Doh.

Target was not specific in listing its bargains. However, a corporate spokesman detailed how the store will handle the mob scene at such an odd hour.

Security features include coverage of the parking lot prior to the midnight open opening. Some Target employees will use mobile security devices such as Segways or T-3s to increase their visibility.

Store-specific maps will provide shoppers a guide to the top sales items, while hanging signs will point to hot items. Popular products will be spread throughout the store to ensure elbow room for customers.

Meanwhile, the Best Buy in the Willow annex will be “fully staffed” for its midnight start, said a store manager. Among the “Doorbusters” bargains for the wee-hours shoopers will be a Samsung laptop computer for $299.99, a Sharp 42-inch HD TV for $199.99 and a Toshiba Smart Blu-Ray player for $39.99.

Some employees of smaller stores don’t get the logic of midnight openings, which can deplete the stock of sale items for the main crowd coming in later.

“You disenfranchise the normal person who comes in (during the day),” said Zach Ferraro, assistant manager of Wishes…Toy Wonderland, 1885 Tower Drive in The Glen Town Center. “It’s unnecessary.”

Wishes, a custom toy store, will open 15 minutes early at 9:45 a.m. on “Black Friday.” Ferraro said the store will stay open past 9 p.m. if necessary to handle any additional shoppers.

The hottest new toys at Wishes are "laser pegs," which give off light when they are placed one atop another. Ferraro said the shop ordered “a few big shipments.”

‘Black Wednesday’ at new store in The Glen

A few storefronts north of Ferraro’s shop is the new Vintage Nest, which opened Sept. 30 and specializes in vintage home décor, jewelry, clothing and unique gifts. Owner Mindy Schloss said opening well before dawn “is something I would never do. I’m going to enjoy Thanksgiving.”

For Schloss, her “Black Friday” will come two days earlier.

“I talked to one of the other shop owners, Stella and Grace, who was here over three years,”  she said. “Typically on Black Friday they don’t get an unusual amount of traffic. People are tending to go to big box stores in malls, not go into an area where there’s not as much variety. So they promoted ‘Black Wednesday,’ the day before Thanksgiving.

“We’ll do the same. We’re offering 20 percent off the entire store (stock) plus a raffle. We’ll open at 9 a.m., an hour earlier.”

Another store that won’t get in on the “Black Friday” express is Home Goods, a discount retailer specializing in holiday gifts, furniture, bedding and dinnerware in the Willow annex. Store general manager Art Gone said the crazy day is not his busiest sales day of the year. “It’s the nature of the business,” he said.

What about his midnight competitors?

“Good for them. We wish them well,” Gone said.

Meanwhile, at Abt’s sprawling store on Milwaukee Avenue, it will be busier than usual, but situation mostly normal, with an 8:30 a.m. door opening on “Black Friday.” However, Abt’s internet sales site will be open 24 hours that day. The store is closed just three days a year – Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter Sunday.

All store employees will be on duty on “Black Friday” –- including members of the Abt ownership family, who will assist on the floor if needed -- while Glenview police will direct traffic in and out of the jammed parking lot from Milwaukee Avenue.

Abt constantly runs sales, so pinpointing expected “Black Friday” bargains is not so easy. Hottest sellers going into the holiday season include Apple's iPad and the iPhone, said John Panchisin, one of Abt’s four general managers.

And Abt has more than a few happy customers. Among Abt’s photo gallery of satisfied patrons includes Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Oprah Winfrey and all Chicago sports owners – the Cubs’ Ricketts family, White Sox and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz.

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