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Black Friday Shoppers Share Their Stories

Three local women share thoughts on their shopping experience - in case you decided to skip the mall.

Maybe you decided to skip Black Friday this year. Maybe you chose to hit up a few stores outside the mall instead.

In case you were curious what all the hype was about, a few local shoppers have agreed to share their tales with Patch. You can enjoy these stories from the comfort of your own home - no lines needed.

Kaitlin Chittenden, 18, from Reston:

"My sister and I arrived at Fair Oaks Mall last night at 9:45, thinking it was going to be crazy crowded, but there was no one there. By 10:40, there were just over 50 people waiting outside of the entrance to the mall. When the mall opened at 11, people flooded in from all different entrances.

My sister and I went straight for Victoria's Secret and ended up being the first 2 people in line. For the full hour we were sitting there, I observed the mall slowly getting more crowded. The line for Victoria's Secret became so long that we started blocking neighboring store entrances. It is safe to say there were at least 50 people, if not more, in line for Victoria' Secret. The line for forever 21 was wrapping around the upper level. When Victoria's Secret opened at 12, girls flooded in from every direction. It was impossible to walk once inside the store. My sister and I managed to find everything we wanted within 5 minutes. We got really lucky.

Was it fun? Yes, it was much more enjoyable than my experience from 2 years ago at Tyson's

Did I find what I was shopping for? Yes! :-)

Were the stores crazy busy? From what I could see, yes, extremely.

Did you learn anything about Black Friday that will be useful next year? Yes, I learned that, if I go to Fair Oaks again, I won't need to get there at 9:45. (too early). Another thing I learned, was that, at Victoria's Secret they let just about everyone in at the same time, so the line was almost useless. I won't feel pressured to get in line early next year.

Marcie Foster, 29, of Vienna:

I've done Black Friday the past two or three years with my mom, and it's become a fun Thanksgiving tradition. We were never the ones first in line and almost rarely snagged the infamous "doorbusters;" 5:00am was about as early as we could muster. We saved a few bucks, checked a few items of our family Christmas lists, drank Starbucks, and bought too many Ann Taylor sweaters.

This year, when I heard that Black Friday was going to start at 8:00pm on THANKSGIVING DAY for some big box retailers and midnight for Fair Oaks Mall and Tysons, I blew it off thinking no one in their right mind would encroach upon family time to crash at the mall. I thought we'd still be able to have the Black Friday Rush fun in the morning and pick up a few amazing deals. I was 100% wrong. 

I got up at the usual 4:30am and was at the mall by 5:00am, just in time to see Sears rolling up the red carpet and taking down their "Black Friday" signs from outside. The mall was scattered with families and teenagers, but nothing like the usual rush. Major discounts were hard to come by and most stores were advertising week-long sales that had been going on since Monday. Other stores (Gap, Express, Macy's) had obviously been ravaged 5 hours earlier when the mall opened. At Gap, the store employees were literally staring at piles of mish-mashed sweaters and jeans saying "I don't even know where to start."

Turns out I didn't know where to start either. I did a little window shopping before hitting up Gap for some 40% off tops and sweaters for my husband. I then proceeded to get some other family gifts from Macy's and Lord and Taylor's, and then headed to Williams-Sonoma to pick up some stocking stuffers, including Peppermint Bark for $19.95(discounted from $26.95). I also got a new Vacuum at Sears (which I later found out, was broken). After leaving the mall, I headed to World Market, which was fortunately having the traditional Black Friday sales. I picked up some Christmas decorations (BOGO), more gifts (again, BOGO), food for my foodie friends, and a free ornament and movie ticket (the World Market Life of Pi doorbuster).  

While I ended up getting much of my Christmas shopping done, I was fairly disappointed with the deals I found. Lots of hype in the ads and signage, but the deals were pretty average. It probably would have been different had I gone out at midnight, but I'll never be willing to give up Thanksgiving Day just to shop. I'll definitely try again next year, thought--haven't given up yet!

Sharon Pou, 34, of Reston:

Here is my recap of Black Friday. I went to Target in Reston at 9:00pm on Thursday night. It actually wasn't as crowded as I thought it was going to be but it was surely busy. The parking lot was totally full of cars. They had a lot of staffers working both inside and outside and there was a cop car out front directing traffic and plenty of security guards who checked your receipt as you walked out. The big ticket items (tv's, iphones, ipads, etc.) were of course the most popular items that people were stocking up on. The tv's were in boxes in the middle of the store for people to pick up on their own. The ipads, ipods, nook's, etc. had a really long line for people to wait in for assistance. As usual, the name brand tv's were the first ones to go. The other tv's (lesser known brands - Apex, etc.) still had plenty available left.

The line to check out was wrapped throughout the aisles of the store (near the checkout area) which was smart marketing ploy so as you walk through the aisles, you are looking at the paper towels, toilet paper, etc. Also, near the checkout line they had a few extra door buster deals like logitech mouses, towels, etc. There was blue tape all along the floor to show you were to go to get in line as well as Target staffers pointing you in the right direction. It only took me about 20 minutes to get through the line. They didn't have enough flyers to hand out so Target staffers were letting people borrow theirs but they kept being stolen by other people and a Target staffer mentioned that I could look at it but couldn't take it, ha.

Overally, my experience was fun and I would certainly do it again next year. The one item that I was going to buy was the Nook but then when I saw the size of the line for it I decided it really wasn't worth it. I did buy a suitcase (which was more 60% off) and a few toys and DVD's that were also good pretty deals. The DVD's were selling for $4,$6,$8 and people were snatching those up very quickly.

Did you go shopping on Friday? Share your own story below in the comments section.

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