MORRIS – The parking lot at the Menards in Morris was filled Friday morning with crowds of shoppers hoping to find Black Friday deals.
“I came here at 6:30 this morning and they were completely out of carts,” Menards shopper Brenda Downey said. “I went home, ate some breakfast, got rested up and came back here when I could get a cart.”
Downey said she never misses Black Friday sales. On Thanksgiving night, she was waiting in line at the Walmart in Morris.
“You couldn’t even navigate through the store it was packed,” Downey said.
The National Retail Federation estimated that up to 140 million people would shop this holiday weekend with nearly one-quarter of shoppers – or 33 million people – planning to shop on Thanksgiving Day.
Still, Friday was estimated to be the busiest day of the weekend with 69 percent of shoppers – or roughly 97 million people – shopping on Black Friday.
Katie Stiles and Art Leasure of Coal City woke up at 4:30 a.m. Friday to start their Black Friday shopping, after shopping until 2:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving night.
“I’m exhausted but I love it. All the deals, the fun and the excitement of all the people,” Stiles said while loading her car with dozens of Menards bags.
Some major retailers started their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, which has been met with mixed feelings from customers.
“I think it’s fine,” Stiles said. “We were done with our Thanksgiving meal by about noon so it was all over by the time we started shopping.”
Cathleen Fleetwood, owner of The Front Porch in downtown Morris, said she would never open her doors on Thanksgiving to compete with major stores.
“As retail workers, we don’t get to spend much time with our families as it is,” Fleetwood said. “I could never ask the girls that work here to sacrifice their family time. I just couldn’t.”
The Front Porch was one of several local businesses in downtown Morris that held their annual open house Friday as part of Home for the Holidays.
“We don’t do the Black Friday sales,” downtown shopper Debi Robinson said. “It’s too crazy with too many people. It’s not a very relaxing way to shop.”
Maureen Headrick, owner of Brianna Lynn’s Boutique, offered customers homemade wassail and cookies when they entered her store on Liberty Street. Headrick said she did not feel threatened by corporate retailers on Black Friday.
“We have our loyal customers and they’ve gotten used to the nice downtown Morris,” Headrick said. “Some people like the crowds and some people don’t. There’s a place for everyone.”