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Lincoln residents shop locally on Black Friday

By: Patty McAlpin, Reporter
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Happy is how local merchants described shoppers looking for deals Nov. 23 (Black Friday), the day after Christmas and the first official shopping day of the holiday season.

“The customers are really happy,” said T.J.Maxx associate Brittany Bewley, who offered customers T.J. Maxx credit card applications. “No one is cranky. Most people are saying they slept in and this was their last stop.”

The store opened at 7 a.m. instead of its usual 9:30 a.m. Nov. 23.

Clothes, toys and jewelry are what most were buying at the store, according to Bewley.

Lincoln resident Sonia Van Heel said she is shopping online and at T.J. Maxx. She and five relatives piled into their van, “leaving the men home to watch” the younger children.

“I’m here for stuff for the kids and decorations for the house,” Van Heel said. “I’m looking for dress-up fashion stuff for my 9-year-old daughter and toys and woodworking items for my 5-year-old son.”

A Target associate, who won’t give her name other than Celeste, said there are no “it” toys like Elmo this year. She said the store’s hot sellers were televisions, toys and electronics.

The Delgado family walked out with an electric throw blanket, pajamas for everyone in their household, a vacuum cleaner and “The Hunger Games” DVD in their shopping cart.

“This multi-floor vacuum cleaner was a really good deal,” Marisela Delgado said.

The vacuum originally cost more than $300 and she got it for $250, Delgado added.

Her daughter, Bianca Delgado, quipped with a smile, “This is to make us clean.”

Selina Delgado teased her sister, Bianca.

 “I’m going to steal the electric throw blanket and wrap up in the blanket to watch ‘The Hunger Games,’” Selina said.

Marisela Delgado said she wasn’t shopping for a big-ticket item this year.

“I bought myself a nook last year and I liked it so much I bought my daughters one too,” Marisela Delgado said. “I love to read.”

The toys appeared to be a hit at The Home Depot. The store started the day with 12 remote control helicopters. Three remained by mid-afternoon.

When the store opened its doors at 5 a.m. 40 customers were waiting to come inside to shop.

“We’re carrying a lot more toys this year,” said merchandising manager Dave Wither. “Elmo is a big hit.”

The animated Elmo on a sled sings “Deck the Halls” when a button on his hand is pressed.

An animated Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks caused a big smile to spread across the face of 20-month-old Erin Dailey. Erin clapped her hands as Alvin sang.

Her grandmother, Carolyn Dailey, was shopping for closet folding doors. Dailey said she “is searching” for a little kitchen for Erin’s sister, who will turn 4 in December. For Erin, she’s hoping to find a stuffed dog.

“We’re teaching her to like dogs,” Carolyn Dailey said. “We have five puppies at home.”

Lilly Kate boutique owner Tina Sikkema said pettiromper dresses are popular sellers in her downtown store. The flapper-inspired dresses come in purple, pink and green. She offers washable neck ties for the boys.

Ninety percent of what she sells is handmade.

For her 1-year-old daughter, Sikkema is making a tutu dress.

“She’s going to have her first Christmas photo taken in the dress,” Sikkema said.

Her 10-year-old son wants a bow and arrow for Christmas. Her 4-year-old son asked for a red dinosaur.

This is the first year Sikkema wasn’t able to go Black Friday shopping with her mother.

“They live in Michigan,” Sikkema said of her parents. “Last year, my daughter was 2- weeks-old when she went with us. We always decorate the house after we get our shopping done.”

When Lincoln’s Target opened at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Sikkema was in line behind 100 customers. She purchased a portable DVD player.

“That was a lot of fun,” she said. “I always go Black Friday shopping.”

Lincoln resident Karen Stanis, shopping at Ace Hardware on Black Friday, said she shopped at Target on Thanksgiving, too.

“It was crazy,” she said. “It was like everyone in Lincoln was there.”

At Ace Hardware, she picked up a sawhorse for her son who just bought a house in Auburn. Her husband, who was shopping a few aisles away, was holding a drill. She was also looking for a flashlight for her granddaughter.

“She likes building forts,” Stanis said as she scanned the sales ad for other deals. 

Ace Hardware store manager Scott Meyer, who took over as manager of his family’s store in July, said business at Ace Hardware was steady “on a beautiful day.” His father, John Meyer, bought Ace Hardware from John Tofft in 2005.

Meyer said he is thankful for the opening of the Lincoln Highway 65 Bypass this last October.

“There’s room to move around town,” Meyer said. “My customers from Del Webb had complained about traffic on this side of town.”

Jill DeWitt, The Carrousel Cottage owner, also said business at her store was steady. Her store has been at its Fifth Street location for two Christmases. She has been in business in downtown Lincoln for 14 years.

“I’m pleased,” DeWitt said. “It’s beautiful. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”

Customers to her store bought Scottie dog bags, tea coasters, soap, aprons, a rooster tote bag and a candle.

No Christmas decorations adorned the store on Black Friday.

“I don’t want Thanksgiving and Christmas to blur,” said DeWitt, who planned to put up decorations Sunday and Monday when the store is closed. “I’m old school.”

Half a block over at Anna’s Sweet Repeats, Todd Benzel from Squeegee Brothers installed icicle lights outside the store in preparation for the Downtown Lincoln Lights of Lincoln Open House and decorating contest Dec. 8.

Todd and his brother, Chad, also planned to hang outside lights at four homes in Sun City Lincoln Hills Friday.

“In the next two weeks, we’ll be hanging lights at a few hundred homes in Sun City,” Todd Benzel said.

Inside the store, owner Anna Woods helped La Rita Groenwald of Lincoln pick out an outfit for a Christmas party. The two started with a black lace shrug.

“I appreciate her expertise and the one-on-one customer service,” Groenwald said of Woods.

Anna’s husband, Bill Woods, who was at the register, said, “I’m having fun. That’s all that matters. I get to celebrate the Lord’s birthday. It’s all good.”

At nearby store Better With Age, owner Lorin English and Sue Herron, a customer and friend, placed ornaments on a special Christmas tree inside the store. Proceeds of ornaments purchased from this tree will be donated to a Lincoln charity. English said anyone coming into the store can make a suggestion as to which charity they’d like to see chosen. All the names will be tossed into a hat and the winner will be picked Dec. 15.

“The glass ornaments are $5 but there are also ornaments on the tree that cost less than $5 that can be used to decorate presents,” English said. She keeps a pot of hot water ready to make tea for herself and her customers.