Business & Real Estate

Shoppers jam Arden Fair in the early hours of Black Friday

Thousands of bargain hunters poured into Arden Fair mall late on Thanksgiving for an all-night shopping event the mall called Black Friday Midnight Madness but which really started at 8 p.m. Thursday, when Sears, JCPenney, Macy’s and many other stores opened their doors for the next 25 hours.

The Thanksgiving Day start to the holiday shopping season has replaced the traditional early-morning Black Friday openings that once marked the beginning of the busiest shopping day of the year, with shoppers lining up at dawn for discounted prices.

It was the first time Arden Fair, the city of Sacramento’s major mall, had opened so early. Last year it opened at midnight on Black Friday.

At 11 p.m. Thursday, cars were streaming into the mall parking lot with a heavy police presence and workers directing traffic. The mall was jammed with families and groups of teens toting shopping bags, eating at the food court and people watching.

Despite the crowds, some shoppers said the mall was less busy than last year because the 8 p.m. opening of some stores meant not everyone arrived at midnight.

“Because it opened earlier, it’s not as packed,” said Christopher Carter, 18, who carried a dozen shopping bags for his mother, sister, aunt and cousins, calling himself the family’s “pack mule.” He stood in a long line at Cinnabon and said he had room for a gooey baked treat even after downing two Thanksgiving dinners that day.

At the Disney store, Marcie Hudoc of Folsom, used her Disney credit card, which she pulled from her Disney handbag, to pay for a pile of toys and clothes for her children, 9 and 7. She saved 20 percent on all her purchases and used a coupon to save another $20.

“My husband chose to stay at home, but he appreciates the good deals,” she said.

Store manager Connie Goldie, wearing a cap with Mickey Mouse ears, said all her employees had been able to share Thanksgiving dinner with their families before coming to work. They were busy ringing up purchases and helping the throngs of shoppers.

“It is the most magical shopping day of the year,” Goldie said with a grin.

At the Rest & Relax mattress store, salesman Brent Walton sat by himself, without a single customer. Nordstrom was closed, deadening foot traffic past the shop. Walton pointed out a $1,500 bed on sale for $699 and bamboo pillows that normally retailed for $129 selling for $50.

“I thought it would be nice and busy,” he said. He was scheduled to work until 7 a.m. but said if it stayed so slow he might just fall asleep. “We’ve got plenty of beds,” he said.

Mall security managers reported no major incidents as of midnight, but during the wee hours activity started to pick up. Guards escorted a man wearing a fur coat, fedora and sunglasses out of the mall, while police chased after teens who had climbed onto Macy’s roof. Paramedics wheeled a young man from the GameStop store after he fainted because of too much shopping excitement, said store manager Ryan Brooks. The small store was jammed with shoppers seeking the latest video games and gaming consoles.

Outside the mall, across the street from Macy’s, dozens of people waited in line for the Urban Outfitters store to open at midnight.

Erica Moritz, 16, from Los Angeles, had stood at the front of the line for three hours with her sister, cousin and aunt, all of whom were visiting relatives in Sacramento. They shivered in the cold night air.

Although the mall next door had been open for hours and was warm inside, the wait outdoors at Urban Outfitters was worth it, Moritz said, to snag some “cute jackets and pants” at a store where the clothing “matches our fashion.”

Still, she said looking down at her fashionable black boots, “my toes are frozen."