Post-Black Friday shoppers delight in smaller crowds

Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:12 AM

What a difference a day can make.

While Black Friday (beginning Gray Thursday) drew unthinkable crowds to all major retailers along the Parkway, the following Saturday felt more pre-Thanksgiving than after.

The Parkway was still jammed going northbound, but on the southbound strip, shoppers at the Pigeon Forge Factory Outlet Mall (Red Roof Mall) were much more relaxed as they went from Rack Room Shoes to New York New York, or browsed the sidewalk selection outside Oshkosh B'gosh.

These were the shoppers who avoided the rush of Black Friday. This is a different breed of shopper, one that has its own characteristics, and some of its members don't shop very much at all.

"My family doesn't do a lot of gift-giving," said Margie Carpenter of Roanoke, Va. "We'd rather be together and have a good meal."

Carpenter comes to Sevier County with her family several times a year. But, she said, she comes to Pigeon Forge around the holidays for the lights and the atmosphere, not the shopping.

"Other than my grandchildren and my son, I don't do much Christmas shopping."

Carpenter doesn't describe herself as a Christmas shopper, but the reason, she said, is because of the crowds on and after Black Friday.

"I've worked retail so I know how it is," she said. "I don't shop the day after Thanksgiving."

She still hunts for bargains like the Black Friday shoppers, but does most of her shopping in December.

"The sales get better the closer you get to Christmas," Carpenter said. "I just get what's on sale that I see when I'm out."

Laura Mullis of Palmetto, Ga. doesn't shop on Black Friday either, instead opting for the more laid back, post-Thanksgiving shopping.

"I try to get some of the deals that are still left, and usually a lot of the stores are still running their deals after Thanksgiving," she said.

Mullis came to Sevier County to meet family after a Georgia Thanksgiving. Her husband's family is from West Virginia, and they all met in Pigeon Forge for shopping.

Mullis's Christmas shopping habits are more ritualistic. She said she does a little Christmas shopping year-round, but she likes to do most of it in Pigeon Forge after Thanksgiving.

She doesn't, however, always shop with the same people, store to store.

"My husband usually leaves me standing," Mullis said with a laugh. "And I usually don't go with a bunch of people because everybody wants to go different directions. There's six of us, and we all end up separated."

Mullis doesn't feel any sense of urgency that Black Friday shoppers may feel, especially given the advertising attention for Black Friday that may suggest shoppers have only one day to jump on sales.

"I'm probably 90 percent finished with my shopping, and I haven't had any trouble finding anything I'm looking for," Mullis said.

rhargett@themountainpress.com