Shoppers hit Columbia Mall for Black Friday sales
COLUMBIA - One of the busiest shopping days of the year lived up to its reputation as shoppers swarmed the Columbia Mall for Black Friday sales.
Rusty Strodtman, Senior General Manager, said mall staff spent months preparing for Black Friday.
"We spend months with advertising and our marketing plans," Strodtman said. "We spend a lot of time doing contract preparation, snow removal, security. We do a lot of increasing our staff levels for the holidays, so we spend a lot of time interviewing, hiring and training people, getting ready for this day. We've done a lot of preparation and now it's just a matter of execution."
Strodtman said the biggest obstacle is the unknown. Thursday night the building's energy management system had issues, leaving several stores without power for 20 minutes while shoppers were inside.
The busiest hours at the mall were Thursday from 6 p.m. to midnight, and then again Friday morning at 6 a.m. As of 10 a.m., Strodtman said the mall's parking lot was 80 percent full. With many stores opening Thursday night, he said Friday morning was much calmer.
"In the past years at 6 a.m. it would just be a mad house, where today at 6 a.m. it was not mad house. So it's definitely spread the business out over a longer period of time. Though based on last night's success and how much we've already seen today, I think today's going to be a very busy day."
Many stores have extended Black Friday sales into the weekend in hopes of attracting more customers.
"I think this year you'll see there's more weekend sales than just the day of," Strodtman said. "In years past, most of the time most of your sales were on Black Friday only. I think a lot of the retailers are doing Black Friday weekend sales, so the sale that maybe was good for a few hours on Friday would be good for the whole weekend. So I think you'll see there's a lot more savings and some good deals being given this year so hopefully the customers are able to find what they want at a lower price."