BRADENTON -- Good sales, giveaways and charity dominated Manatee Avenue's shopping scene on Black Friday.
The Beall's on Manatee Avenue made one Palmetto resident the owner of a Guy Harvey Paddleboard on Thursday evening. The promotion was one of many sales meant to draw crowds at Beall's department stores. They opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. From midnight to 7 a.m., shoppers received an additional 60 percent off of clearance merchandise and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. the discounts continued with 50 percent off of clearance merchandise. The store offered other "Beall ringer" deals and slashed prices on apparel, accessories and outdoor gear to get shoppers in the door.
Heather Diggens, manager at the 6355 Manatee Ave. location said the store saw more people turn out on Thanksgiving than on Black Friday morning. About 250 people were waiting outside to get in the night before, she said.
One pair of shoppers, Lisa Miller and Kaelyn Weiss, traveled from the Midwest to have Thanksgiving dinner with Miller's parents who are seasonal residents. They spent Thanksgiving evening on the beach before getting up at 5 a.m. to take advantage of Beall's Black Friday sales.
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"This is our second round of Beall's," Miller said at 7 a.m. The two started at Beall's at 5 a.m. and stopped for coffee in between trips. The rest of Miller's Black Friday plans included shopping for surprise gifts for her parents.
Jack Nicklaus, store manager at the Manatee Avenue Kmart, gets into the holiday spirit from some of the season's pleasant surprises.
Shoppers who are a part of the Kmart members program can put any merchandise on layaway and occasionally, it's taken care of by what Nicklaus describes as "layaway angels."
"Layaway angels come in and pay off layaways," Nicklaus said. "They've been doing it for years and it's to help people who are struggling. The angels come into the store and pay off layaways anonymously and Nicklaus calls members with the news.
"A lot of them are so emotional they start crying," he said. "They'll say, 'I don't know how I was going to make it.'"
Janelle O'Dea, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095 or follow her on Twitter@jayohday.