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Shoppers experience shopping ‘madness’

POSTED: November 30, 2011 4:00 a.m.
Michele Hester Dawson Community News/

Eric Ferguson and family set up lawn chairs on Thanksgiving outside of the Adidas store at the North Georgia Premium Outlets. The White County teenager was hoping to get a free $50 gift card.

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The Black Friday madness in Dawsonville started early as bargain hunters descended on North Georgia Premium Outlets for the center's annual Midnight Madness after Thanksgiving shopping event.

Many stores chose to open by 9 p.m. Thursday to accommodate the most dedicated bargain hunters.

"We saw an overall increase in traffic on Black Friday, welcoming tens of thousands of shoppers who were local and regional residents, as well as visitors to the area," said Heather Halpern, general manager of the outlet mall.

Jakia Hopgood drove from Decatur hoping to find a deal on designer handbags.

Standing about a hundred people deep in a line of nearly 400, Hopgood said she didn't mind the wait or weather.

"The lines are long and it's too cold, but we're hearing Coach has everything for 30 percent off," she said.

This year was the first time stores at the outlets advertised opening as early as 9 p.m. for the annual event.

Black Friday, as the day after Thanksgiving shopping tradition is known, draws its name from an accounting term that indicates retailers have made a profit, or are "in the black."

According to Dawson County Sheriff's deputies, traffic backed up for miles on Ga. 400 that night and throughout the busy shopping weekend.

By midnight, all of the center's nearly 140 shops were open, though shoppers started lining up by 6 p.m.

Eric Ferguson and family set up lawn chairs outside Adidas, where the White County teen hoped to get his hands on a free $50 gift card.

"I'm going to North Georgia [College & State University] to play basketball next year, and I'm looking for some basketball shoes," he said.

On a quick break from his job at an outlet store, Lance Adams of Dawsonville sat next to a man and his sleeping child on a bench outside Banana Republic.

"I've worked a couple Black Fridays before. It gets pretty crazy," he said. "One year I was at the cash register for eight hours nonstop."

As in previous years, parking at the center filled quickly, leaving those arriving later to park at adjacent businesses and along Ga. 400.

Many also parked across the highway at Walmart, which also featured overnight Black Friday sales.

As midnight approached, Katie Waters waited in the Walmart parking lot for her husband, Brandon, to load a 42-inch TV into their truck.

The couple got some help from Chris and Susan Allen, who they had met while shopping at the supercenter.

"Buggies are hard to come by, so we shared one," Katie Waters said.


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