by Anna Oakes
"In our small market here, it's just not feasible for us," said Heidi Ellis, general manager of the Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock. Ellis noted that the Blowing Rock shopping center had opened on Thanksgiving in the past -- in 2008, 2009 and 2010. "There would be a two-hour rush, and then there would be nothing for hours."
The Blowing Rock center was in the minority among Tanger Outlets across the country, however, as most were required to open Thanksgiving Day, Ellis said. Instead, the Blowing Rock center was open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.
"Here in Blowing Rock we had a slow start this morning, but actually we're pretty busy now," Ellis said at midday Friday. "The stores are reporting comparable sales compared to last year, and some of them are up." Ellis said she was feeling optimistic about sales in part due to the clear weather forecast for the weekend.
"We're highly driven by the weather here," she said.
The Boone Walmart joined in the Thanksgiving opening frenzy, with vehicles reportedly filling every parking space from the store to the Chili's restaurant. Farther down on Blowing Rock Road, a few Boone Mall retailers were on board for the Thanksgiving opening as well, with stores such as JC Penney, Belk and Old Navy unlocking the doors at 7 p.m.
Other Boone Mall storefronts, including RadioShack and The Gamefather, rolled up their gates at 7 a.m. Friday. RadioShack sales associate Zach Arsenault said items such as tablets, batteries and memory cards were big sellers.
"It seemed a little bit busier than last year," Arsenault said. "I feel like stores opening on Thanksgiving kind of did slow it down a little because people already had a lot of their shopping done."
In downtown Boone, traffic backed up on King Street and available parking spaces were scarce at midday Friday as a sizeable crowd shopped and dined with local merchants. The town of Boone's Jones House Cultural and Community Center opened Friday and Saturday to provide public restrooms, as well as cider and cookies.
"It seems busy (downtown)," said Boone downtown coordinator Virginia Falck, who said she'd probably hear from downtown merchants about the weekend's sales results later this week.
Organizations such as the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and High Country Local First promoted shopping local in the weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving weekend, with slogans such as "Shift Your Shopping" and "Shop Local Saturday."
Holiday Shopping by the Numbers
Estimated retail sales by U.S. department stores in December 2012. - U.S. Census Bureau
Estimated portion of total 2012 department store sales that took place in December. --U.S. Census Bureau
Estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2012. - U.S. Census Bureau
Percentage of North Carolinians who planned to shop on Black Friday 2013. - Elon University Poll
Estimated number of Americans who planned to shop Thanksgiving Day 2013 - National Retail Federation