Black Friday blog: Shoppers get early start in Collier and Lee counties

Hundreds of people rush into Target  on Tarpon Bay Boulevard for a Black Friday shopping special starting at 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, in North Naples. Within a few minutes all the shopping carts were utilized by customers.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, NAPLES DAILY NEWS // Buy this photo

Hundreds of people rush into Target on Tarpon Bay Boulevard for a Black Friday shopping special starting at 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, in North Naples. Within a few minutes all the shopping carts were utilized by customers.

Piped in Christmas music floats through the walkways at Miromar Outlets. The Estero shopping center is bustling shoppers.

The popular outlet mall opened at 10 p.m. , and for the first time in years Isabela DeSouza wasn't here when it opened.

"This is the latest I ever came out," DeSouza said late this morning. "I fell asleep (last night), I was watching Christmas movies."

A late start wasn't going to stop DeSouza, though. The Fort Myers resident said she and her parents came out around 9 a.m., making stops at  Nike and Coach. DeSouza brought her dog, Zeus, with her, and the pair were taking a break while her parents shopped.

"I'm done," she said. "I'm just waiting for my parents."

DeSouza may be a veteran Black Friday shopper, but said she only ever shops at Miromar the day after Thanksgiving.

"I love Miromar," she said. "It has so many stores."

Doug Munro and his wife, Vera, are frequent visitors as well. The part-time Southwest Florida couple has been coming out to Miromar on Black Friday for three years. They've figured out the perfect time to get there — around 9:30 a.m.

"It's a good time. I had my choice of parking spots," he said.

That wasn't the case couple of hours later when he went to drop off a load of bags at his car. Munro said cars were backed up waiting for his spot.

The Munros spend most of the yet in Canada and said its hard to pass up the deals on Black Friday.

"The prices are amazing," he said as he sat waiting for his son and daughter-in-law who were visiting for the weekend.

Vera Munro said she never comes out with a list, but the couple's children do. Since they're here for such a short time, they plan to fill a suitcase with goods bought on Black Friday.

Doug Munro joked he wasn't doing much shopping, just carrying bags. And he wasn't the only husband waiting for his wife this morning. Men sat patiently around a fountain in the center of the shopping center while their significant others shopped.

And while the stores have been booming all morning, only one store still has a line out the door. Around 11:45 am, five people were waiting outside in the line to get into Starbucks.

Earlier:

Shoppers at Coconut Point mall in Estero strolled down the sidewalks this morning popping in and out of stores along the way. Many of the shoppers said they had been at it since early this morning, and several said they were surprised the lines weren't longer.

Pittsburgh resident Peggy Leedy said she and her family started their day around 7 am at Edison Mall in Fort Myers. Leedy said her husband works for American Eagle, and was checking on how the stores were doing so Leedy and her daughters decided to tag along.

By a little after 10 a.m., Leedy and her daughters had found a bench at Coconut Point and were taking a breather. She said Edison Mall had been busy this morning, but was surprised the outdoor mall a few miles away wasn't.

"Maybe it's not because people will come out later," she said. "Maybe by noon."

Rosemary Muse and her mother will most likely be home by noon. Muse said the pair, along with her sister, had been out since before 5 a.m.

"This is my first time," said Amanda Fowler, Muse's mother.

Fowler and Muse didn't partake in the shopping on Thursday. Muse said she feels like those staffers should get to be home with their families.

Muse too said she was surprised the lines weren't too long. She said she only had to wait today in one long line — the one at Starbucks.

Lines were forming across town at Miromar Outlets, but not in the stores. Instead shoppers were circling the lot to find a good parking space, often times going over the curb to find a spot in the grass.

Earlier:

Shoppers at one East Naples retailer were met with protesters this morning.

About a 10 Occupy Naples supporters gathered in front of the Walmart on U.S. 41 East this morning urging shoppers to shop local and boycott the superstore. The effort, said Ellen Hemrick, the group's spokeswoman, was meant to raise awareness about the need to shop local. Hemrick also said the group wanted to inform community members of the stores policies.

But talking to customers was difficult to do. While Hemrick said she had hoped to set up in front of the store's front doors, store officials asked the group to move to the sidewalk. That means the only interaction protestors have is while people are driving to their next stop.

Still Hemrick is hopeful the group is getting its message across.

"We think full-time work should be rewarded by a living wage," she said.

While the group raised money for striking Walmart employees, Hemrick said she wasn't aware of any local employees who went on strike.

Shopping local, Hemrick said, means keeping more money in Collier County. That will help boost the economy.

The protestors waving signs didn't stop people from going to Walmart, though. A steady stream of cars entered the parking lot as Occupy supporters handed out fliers and waved their signs urging Walmart employees to unionize.

Earlier:

As if to prepare for the crush of customers, employees at the Target on Pine Ridge Road made sure to put rows of carts in the middle of wide aisles. But at 7:30 am today the Pine Ridge Crossing location was quiet.

The store opened at 9 p.m. Thursday. On Friday morning, about a dozen people walked around the electronics section looking for deals.

A few minutes away at Kohl's and Best Buy, employees restocked shelves and helped customers. Shoppers at neither store faced long lines.

Both Best Buy and Kohl's opened at midnight.

Even earlier:

Lisa Craven and her two sisters, Lori Martin and Naples resident Lena Costain, were winding down their shopping adventure around 7 a.m. The threesome wasn't calling it quits after a short day, though. Instead, they had been at it since 5 p.m. Thursday.

Shopping on Black Friday is a holiday tradition for the three sisters. They started when their children were little, fighting the crowds at toy stores for Furbies and a Tickle me Elmo. This morning, Craven and Martin sat at a high-top table near the play area at the Coastland Center mall crossing items off their lists and waiting for Costain.

Craven, a South Carolina resident, said they had dinner before shopping. She said she was surprised the stores weren't busier.

"Nowhere had been crazy," she said.

The women planned to hit three more stores before heading home, and likely to bed.

Earlier yet:

Just one week after opening it's first Southwest Florida location, clothing retailer H&M was quiet this morning. About a dozen shoppers walked around the store, and sales staff quietly restocked shelves.

It's a scenario that's being repeated throughout the Coastland Center mall this morning. Only one major retailer — Dillard's — appears to be closed at this hour, and there is a minimal wait at most of the stores.

While some stores opened at 6 a.m., others have signs in front announcing they've been open since midnight. At Old Navy sales staff walk around in holiday-themed pajama pants helping customers.

Sales staff aren't the only ones feeling exhausted. Shoppers can be found curled up on couches throughout the mall with their eyes closed or sipping giant cups of coffee.

Even earlier still:

The sun hasn't come up yet, but the Coastland Center mall in Naples is already bustling.

Dozens of retailers — including JCPenny's, Zales Jewelers and H&M — are already open, and eager shoppers are scurrying through the mall from store to store. Sitting areas in the concourses have turned into spots for shoppers to pull out the advertisements and go over their plan of attack.

Naples resident Sandy Poore was among the throngs of people who showed up at JCPennys when the doors opened at 6 am. Black Friday shopping is a family tradition, and Poore said she and family members pore over the advertisements on Thanksgiving Day to come up with a plan of attack.

Poore said she likes to shop early on Friday. Part of the reason is to enjoy the crowds, but it also helps her ready for the holidays.

"It gets us in the holiday spirit," said shopping companion Joanne Loewel.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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