Black Friday deals draw crowds to stores

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Residents from throughout the borough flocked to stores in northeast Queens to take advantage of massive Black Friday sales last week, and many shoppers said they braved the crowds and long lines to buy most of their holiday gifts on a 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 that was packed with crowds since 4 a.m. 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.”

Stores throughout the borough’s northeastern neighborhoods opened early Friday and offered deep discounts to attract shoppers, and residents in southeast Queens crowded Jamaica Avenue to snatch up electronics from street vendors.

Lines for the P.C. Richard & Son in College Point at 136-03 20th Ave., which slashed hundreds of dollars off televisions and other electronics, 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.”

Masciangelo said televisions and laptops were the big sellers for his store Friday and noted that 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.

Technological items were hot sellers on Jamaica Avenue as well.

“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, at 163-13 Jamaica Ave.

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.

“I got a bunch of CDs for my grandparents and I couldn’t pass up getting a camera for myself,” said Margaret Chi, of Flushing. “I knew not to come early in the morning because the lines I heard were way too long. I didn’t have to wait in line too long around noon, maybe half an hour.”

Flushing resident Maria Milvcic said she did much of her holiday shopping at the Modell’s in College Point at 139-17 20th Ave.

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

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.”

The large number of shoppers in Queens is representative of a nationwide uptick in the number of shoppers who went out on Black Friday nationally, according to the National Retail Federation.

The NRF reported an estimated 212 million shoppers flooded retailers across the country and spent $45 billion over the long weekend, an increase over the 195 million shoppers who came out last year and spent $41.2 billion during the same time period.

Still, the economy still had some people in Queens curtailing the amount they usually bought on Black Friday.

“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.”

Reporter Joe Anuta contributed to this article.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 6:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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