Shoppers come out in droves on Black Friday

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Virgin Islanders rose before dawn Friday to get the best deals on merchandise for the holiday season.

Black Friday, the nation's biggest shopping day, is always the day after Thanksgiving. It is called Black Friday because the high volume of shoppers tend to turn a store's bottom line from the red into the black.

At Techbox in Havensight on St. Thomas, people were waiting outside the doors at 4 a.m. - even though the store did not open until 9 a.m.

The main draw?

Giveaways and discounts on iPads and iPods for Black Friday.

"They were storming the doors," Techbox owner Glenford Carty said. "I think they were all trying to get the iPad Mini."

He said sales were steady after the first rush, with customers coming in to buy MacBook Pro laptops, the new iPod Touch and the many accessories and cases for all things Apple.

At 5 a.m. a huge crowd of people was waiting outside the Home Depot on St. Thomas. As soon as the doors opened, shoppers poured into the store, snapping up two-for-$5 poinsettias and $59 Christmas trees as well as big-ticket items such as half-price refrigerators and power tools.

Store manager Stuart Morton said the crowds were bigger and the sales were higher than last year.

"It was more positive than last year; it was very, very busy," he said. "It's was just exciting, and customers were trying to take advantage of all the deals that we have to offer today."

People were happy with the specials and the selection of items, although those who came after noon were disappointed because many of the items had sold out, he said.

The first items out the door were generators marked down from about $600 to about $200. Furniture, appliances, tool sets and Christmas items also were very popular, he said.

Home Depot had a selection of toys this year, everything from teddy bears to toy helicopters.

"Those were gone within the first half hour," Morton said.

Morton said the store remained busy throughout the day and into the evening.

"It was much better Black Friday than last year," he said. "There were no incidents, no fighting. Everyone was just having a good time."

On St. Croix, about 250 people were waiting outside the Sunshine Mall Kmart before the doors opened at 4 a.m., according to store officials.

"It was the earliest we've ever opened in the territory," Kmart District Manager Tony Miles said.

"It's been steady. We've had some good traffic despite the economic situation on St. Croix," Miles said.

He said Kmart's Black Friday strategy is to offer great deals on the most popular items - such as flat-screen televisions - to draw people into the store.

"We offer key items very, very cheap. We sell them below cost," Miles said. "That's our driver to get them in."

Electronics are the most popular items, followed by bicycles, appliances and bedding, he said.

"There were items that were gone in the first half hour, 20 minutes," Miles said. "It's like a feeding frenzy. People just start grabbing things, even if they don't need them."

He said the store had help from the V.I. Police Department to keep customers safe and maintain order.

On St. Thomas, shopping carts were distributed throughout the store to prevent a bottleneck at the door and fights over carts.

"Kmart really brings Black Friday to the islands in a big way," Miles said. "People look forward to it all year, they come out of the house and really enjoy their shopping experience."

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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