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Queens shoppers flock to big-box stores for Black Friday savings

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After stuffing themselves with turkey and pumpkin pie, Queens residents added a little more weight to themselves Friday — in the form of shopping bags.

Residents came out in full force to take advantage of massive Black Friday sales, and many people said after braving the crowds and standing in seemingly never-ending lines, they finished much of their holiday shopping on the day that is one of the most important events for retailers.

Black Friday, often called the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, landed its name because it is the day when stores begin to make a profit — or go into the black.

“All my Christmas shopping is done, thank goodness,” Maspeth resident Angelica Calderon said as she loaded her car with bags from the Target in College Point. “Our stuff that we got filled up four carts. The sales this year are definitely good. I got men’s robes for $15 and women’s robes for $10.”

Many stores opened their doors especially early Friday, and Queens Center Mall let shoppers in at midnight. The Target in College Point opened at 4 a.m., and lines for the P.C. Richard & Son in College Point stretched throughout the parking lot hours before the store was set to open at 6 a.m.

“There was a line when I got here at 3:30 a.m.,” said Gabriel Masciangelo, the store manager at P.C. Richard & Son. “We were supposed to open at 6 a.m. but we had to open earlier.”

Hundreds of people were waiting in line to enter the Best Buy at Sky View Center in Flushing when the store opened its doors at 5 a.m., a Best Buy employee said.

Residents were snapping up everything from Mets jerseys to televisions at prices they said were too good to pass up.

“I got Mets jackets for my grandsons because they’re big Mets fans, and I got my son a Yankees jacket,” Flushing resident Maria Milvcic said outside the Modell’s in College Point. “That will make them happy. My son’s a plumber, and Modell’s has a lot of good pants for him.”

Masciangelo said televisions and laptops were the big sellers for his store Friday and noted residents could save hundreds on a number of televisions. A Samsung 37-inch television, for example, was on sale for about $578 Friday, compared to its regular price of $1,899. For people who really wanted to splurge, a 65-inch Samsung television was $3,899 — close to $1,000 less than its normal price of $4,799.

The tension of Black Friday came to a head in the early afternoon at the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst. Two women came to blows in the line of The Children's Place, a children's clothing store in the mall.

One of the women involved in the altercation, who would not give her name, said she and the other woman were in line when she moved the other woman's bags with her foot. The other woman allegedly accused her of kicking the bags, and the women began to fight.

"She punched my face, and then I scratched her face," the woman said.

The altercation was only one part of the hustle and bustle surrounding Queens' busiest mall, which opened at midnight Friday. The mall at 90-15 Queens Boulevard, which has been operating for more than three decades, was packed with shoppers, and many stores had long lines.

Some, like 18-year-old Richmond Hill resident Dwayne Persaud, had been

at the mall since midnight.

"I've been doing this since I was 8," he said of the Black Friday tradition. He said he planned to leave at noon.

Barely a mile away, Rego Center at Junction Boulevard and 62nd Drive was celebrating its first Black Friday, which many store managers at the various stores said was better than they expected.

"People are happy to find us," said Adam Self, manager of the Costco at Rego Center.

Adam Gordon, assistant manager of the Kohl's, said the volume of customers was about the same as their grand opening.

"We got a lot of shoppers in here today," Gordon said.

Things were not going as well at the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale, a mall at 80-00 Cooper Ave. that has been plagued by financial troubles. Unlike the packed Queens Center and crowds at the Rego Center, the pathways around the mall remained sparse.

"We're not as busy as we hope to be," said Nahid Ahmed, owner of the new Subway at the Shops, although she said her own business — which was giving out coupons for free subs — was doing very well.

Laura Fraraccio, sales manager at the Borders at the Shops, also said her business was doing pretty well, even though there were fewer stores in the mall overall.

"I think we're doing pretty much the same as last year," she said.

In Glen Oaks, shoppers were hunting for bargains throughout Burlington Coat Factory, since many racks had items discounted by as much as 80 percent. But by the afternoon, not everybody was finding a deal.

“Most of the things I want to buy are already gone,” said resident Shyama Kansara, who had already been shopping for four hours. “The people who got up early got the deals.”

On Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, shoppers were snatching up electronics from several of the street’s vendors.

“We’ve been selling home entertainment systems, digital cameras, laptops — and of course — anything from Apple,” said Lloyd Gee, manager of Radio Active V Electronics, 163-13 Jamaica Ave.

But the shopping scene was much quieter along boutique-lined Austin Street in Forest Hills — and residents like it that way.

“The holidays aren’t about being in malls,” said resident Anna Pullini. “The boutiques here are nice and peaceful. I don’t care if it costs me more. I want to enjoy shopping.”

While many residents said they were pleased with their purchases, a number of shoppers noted a tough economy definitely made it more difficult for them to buy as many presents as they have in years past.

“We’re definitely cutting back,” Whitestone resident Anne Higgins said as she shopped at Bay Terrace in Bayside.

Rosa Correia said she had hoped to find some better deals while spending much of her Friday at the stores.

“I used to come out with armfuls of bags from Macy’s, but not this year,” Correia said at Bay Terrace. “This year, I just had one or two bags.”

And on the other side of the counter, small business owners were feeling the effects of the economy as well.

“I think sales are down from last year,” said Bill James, manager of Virus clothing store, 89-63 165th St. in Jamaica. “It’s just like a regular Friday right now.”

Updated 6:30 pm, October 10, 2011
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