Stores prepare for biggest shopping day

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2003

People scurried up and down the sidewalks of Main Street Wednesday as many store doors were opened and closed, giving way to an abundance of passenger traffic as the holidays draw near.

But the opening of bags and the ca-ching of the cash register were at a slow pace compared to what local merchants expect for Friday.

Dusting, vacuuming and stocking the shelves, many stores in the Miss-Lou were preparing Wednesday for what most call the biggest shopping day of the year &045;&045; the day after Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving, that last nationally celebrated holiday before Christmas, is often soon forgotten once the turkey and dressing have been turned into leftovers and microwave reheatables. The food is put away and it is time to play, the shopping game that is, as people are strategizing where to go, what to get and when to be there.

&uot;We’re just bracing ourselves,&uot; Melanie Miller&045;Downer said of her first day after Thanksgiving experience with her new toy store, Dream Street located on Main Street. &uot;We don’t really know what to expect.&uot;

But she, along with other store owners, do expect lots of people.

&uot;We have stocked; we have definitely tried to get the store full,&uot; said Bebee Tiffee, co-owner of Martha’s Vineyard, located on John R. Junkin Drive. &uot;We hope that there are a lot of people.&uot;

As do the stores that have more experience with the crowds of people looking to not go home empty handed.

&uot;Everybody’s running around like a bunch of little elves getting ready,&uot; said Mary Flach, store manager at McRae’s.

With many sales and promotions planned for Friday, the store is gearing up, concentrating on even the most minute details for their customers. &uot;I’m hoping for it to be the busiest day of the year,&uot; Flach said. &uot;I have no reason to believe it won’t be.&uot;

McRae’s is not the only large store in town that is preparing heavily for the big day.

Dexter Long, store manager of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Natchez, said the store has been getting ready for the busy day, increasing police patrols for crowd control and &uot;strategically&uot; placing larger items so customers do not get hurt. &uot;We are expecting large crowds,&uot; Long said. This is &uot;probably the only time you will see every lane open.&uot;

Smaller, locally owned stores are using other techniques to draw in customers. At Daniels’ Basketry, there will be samples of the famous Cora’s Cakes, or cakes in a jar as some people know them. Also, there will be the popular hot pepper jelly on top of cream cheese, storeowner Elaine Daniels said.

Part of the equation many did not forget, besides the cleaning and stocking, is rest.

Daniels said she is going to sit on her porch and relax today to prepare.

Others’ preparation: &uot;Putting all of our new items out, the Christmas decorations, and getting a good night’s sleep,&uot; said Benita Kimbro, owner of Ladybug Creations, a new store in Vidalia.

Many stores are lengthening their hours. McRae’s will open at 7 a.m. and, although Wal-Mart is open for 24 hours, it will have a &uot;special sale&uot; from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday. &uot;I think we’ve got everything pretty much planned out,&uot; Long said. &uot;We’re just pretty much waiting for it to happen.&uot;

Most of the stores on Main Street will open around 9 a.m. and stay open until at least 6 p.m. or later if people continue to come in.

Beginning Friday, Daniels said she will &uot;start staying as late as we need to&uot; to accommodate holiday shoppers.