Shopping frenzy starts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 26, 2005

NATCHEz &8212; If you wanted to be first, you had to get an early start at the Natchez Mall.

A small but determined crew of shoppers hit the mall when McRae&8217;s and JCPenney opened at 5 a.m. Friday on the busiest shopping day of the year.

One of those was Aletia Arbuthnot. By 9 a.m., Arbuthnot was already worn out and looking for a place to sit down while she waited for her sisters to finish their rounds. Arbuthnot, who had four bags of merchandise in her hands, said she comes out every year on this day to get some good deals.

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&8220;I&8217;ve been doing this for seven or eight years,&8221; Arbuthnot said. &8220;But this is just for me. I still have my shopping to do for everyone else.&8221;

Most stores in the mall had good crowds, as evidenced by a mostly full parking lot throughout Friday morning.

&8220;There&8217;s a lot of people here,&8221; Katie Reston said while waiting in line at McRae&8217;s.

At the Natchez Wal-Mart, hundreds of customers hit the store in the early morning to take advantage of special pricing that went until 11 a.m.

David Smith, a customer from Natchez, said he was getting some electronic items, including a flat-screen television, for himself and for Christmas gifts.

&8220;I&8217;ve been wanting to get this stuff for a while but I thought the prices might get better,&8221; Smith said.

In Ferriday, The Gift Box owner Shirley Cliburne said the Friday after Thanksgiving is typically a slow day for her as most shoppers hit the larger retailers.

&8220;I had a great day Wednesday and things typicaly pick up starting next week,&8221; Cliburne said. &8220;I was worried about this year a few weeks ago, but now I think it will be great.&8221;

Some of downtown Natchez&8217;s retailers did have a strong day Friday.

Darby&8217;s Everything Under the Sun opened at 7 a.m. in anticipation of a strong sales day, and owner Darby Short said she was pleased with the day&8217;s sales.

&8220;It&8217;s kind of crazy,&8221; Short said. &8220;This has been a nice, good day for us.&8221;

Short called in much of her family and friends to help work on what is one of the store&8217;s busiest days.

&8220;We have some family here from Mangham (La.), from Winnsboro (La.) and a bunch of friends,&8221; Short said. &8220;We call in all the people we know to help.&8221;

Short said many of her customers and former workers come in on Thanksgiving weekend to visit with old friends at the store.