On your mark, get set: Shop | SummitDaily.com

On your mark, get set: Shop

SUMMIT COUNTY – By noon Friday, Kerry Sitkoskis was $300 over her holiday shopping budget – and loving it.

“My heart’s beating, and my tennis shoes are smoking,” said the La Veta woman. “I’m shopping ’til I drop.”

Sitkoskis, shopping Friday morning at the Levi’s outlet in Silverthorne, was one of millions of shoppers who hit stores on what is reputed to be the busiest shopping day of the year. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, brings with it not only shoppers, but bargain hunters. Wal-Mart is one of many discount, big box retailers that kicks off the holiday shopping season with early day-after-Thanksgiving sales.

About 200 people lined up outside the Frisco Wal-Mart for the store’s 6 a.m. opening Friday, said manager Robert Ownbey, to take advantage of a sale that lasted until 11 a.m. Before going to the factory stores, Sitkoskis hit that sale, too, buying a discounted Playstation II for her two sons. The deals there, she said, were great.

“I was on a mission,” she said. “Now I’m going to have to take a long lunch so I can stay out of the shops.”

There were plenty others to take her place.

At the Silverthorne Factory Stores, marketing director Jana Rae said parking spaces were in short supply. The stores opened for the day at 8 a.m. Friday, but it wasn’t until about 10 a.m., Rae said, that the parking lots suddenly filled. Not all local stores saw frantic activity. At the Dillon Bed, Bath and Beyond, manager Gary Rauth said Friday’s business was brisk but not overwhelming.

“It’s like weekend business,” he said, pointing out, however, that the home products store doesn’t do day-after-Thanksgiving doorbuster sales like Wal-Mart and Target. “We get extremely busy before Christmas. That’s when it goes insane.” Rae hopes the factory stores’ business will go insane, too. She and others in the outlet industry are banking on shoppers coming to their stores in search of lower prices.

“We’re gearing up for an awesome season,” Rae said. “Factory outlet stores are the way to go in this economy.”

It’s that sluggish economy and the prospect of war in Iraq that has consumers watching their pocketbooks and retailers nervous. Add to that a holiday shopping season that, because of a late Thanksgiving, is six days shorter than a year ago, and many store managers are biting their nails. But Lovie Schaeffer, manager of Goods in Breckenridge, isn’t among them.

“Last year was a big year,” she said. “We thought it was going to be awful, and we were way above what we’d done before.” Schaeffer believes that pattern could repeat itself this year.

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