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Lines slow down as Black Friday wears on

Shoppers file inSony store as it opened its doors 9 p.m. for its Midnight Madness sale Thursday November 22 2012.

Shoppers file into the Sony store as it opened its doors at 9 p.m. for its Midnight Madness sale on Thursday, November 22, 2012. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 23, 2012 9:50PM

The flurries began to fall, but the sales didn’t stop, as shoppers flocked to the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall in Aurora for the one-day deals Friday.

“The rush is already gone. It’s still been pretty steady,” said Converse store employee Lindsey Rosa, who was helping customers check out around 10:30 a.m. Most shoppers showed up early, as some stores opened at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

The parking lot was still a madhouse, but the lines had slowed—unless it was a designer handbag you were looking for. Lines outside the Coach and Kate Spade stores were some of the longest, as bundled up bargain buyers waited their turn for a good deal.

“It’s cold, but it’s worth the wait,” said Donna Maryniarzyk, of Woodridge, who was shopping Friday.

With discounts of up to 40 percent off, Maryniarzyk said she just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“I expect to save a couple hundred dollars at least,” she said.

In the food court, Stephanie and Dan Smith, of Naperville, were busy balancing their checkbook. The couple avoided the midnight lines, and saved their shopping for later on Friday morning.

“I guess we missed a couple deals,” Stephanie Smith said. “But, I’m happy with the deals.”

Dan Smith had snagged a pair of hiking shoes at a discounted price. As for the midnight melee, Dan Smith doesn’t feel like he missed out on much.

“People just come for the party atmosphere of it all,” he said.

Signs in store windows boasted sales of up to seventy percent off already reduced outlet prices. And the cold weather didn’t seem to keep anyone away.

“I’m just bundling up,” Stephanie Smith said.

At the Converse store, Rosa kept busy. She had been since 10:30 p.m. Thursday night when her Black Friday shift began at Ulta. She worked selling beauty products until 5 a.m., when she headed to the outlet mall for her 6 a.m. shift. She expected to work until 5 p.m. Friday night.

“I’m gonna take a nap soon,” she said, mentioning plans to tuck away in the store’s back room, or her car. “It’s okay. It’s one day out of the year, and it’s a lot of money.”

Friday morning, there were giant signs outside nearly every store at Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora promoting sales.

“It’s like a normal Saturday (now),” said Caribou Coffee manager Kory Horstman, who was going on his 24th hour awake at around 7 a.m. Around midnight, when many of the mall stores opened, that wasn’t the case.

Horstman and his staff had the important task of keeping dedicated shoppers caffeinated for their holiday missions. Nothing could have prepared him for the earlier crowds, he said.

“This was my first time running (Black Friday) as a store manager,” he said. Hortman said the small mall shop was averaging 40 customers every half hour at the start of the day.

“It was pretty ridiculous,” he said.

By 7 a.m., things at the mall had died down and the lines mellowed. People took time to sit and rummage through Friday newspapers ads, scoping out the best deals, or grab some breakfast while talking up their recent purchases with friends. But not everyone was pleased.

Oswego resident Carrie Smith and Catrina Rodgers, of Aurora, sat bag-less in the mall’s food court, disappointed with their Black Friday adventures.

“The depth of my Black Friday shopping was a $2.20 coffee,” Smith said.

The women rose early, hoping to snag some advertised $8 deals JCPenny was offering up, only to walk away empty-handed.

“We got there, and there was nothing,” she said of the advertised appliances. “It was just totally a big rip off. To get up and come out so early is over-rated.”

Smith and Rodgers were upset when the items they showed up to buy were off the shelves within minutes of the store opening. The arguments they saw among customers was also something that took them out of the holiday spirit.

“In the past, there were plenty of products. If you stood in line, you would get something good,” she said. This year, she walked away with nothing but her cup of joe. “If I don’t see something I want, I’m not going to buy it.”

A disappointed Rodgers agreed.

“People are fighting and stressing. The holidays just aren’t what they used to be,” she said. “The last couple years have been awful.”

Still, it wasn’t all doom and gloom at the mall. Packs of teenage girls roamed around with bags filled to their brims. Santa hats and reindeer ears adorned the heads of many early-morning shoppers who spend most of Thanksgiving night planning their Black Friday routes.

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