Business

Black Friday opens holiday shopping season: Kent Station geared up for shoppers

Santa Claus and  Mrs. Claus give Debra Brewer the naughty or nice test before she and her family went to Santa’s house for photos last November at Kent Station. Santa’s House will open this weekend at the retail shopping complex, the day after Black Friday.  - CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus give Debra Brewer the naughty or nice test before she and her family went to Santa’s house for photos last November at Kent Station. Santa’s House will open this weekend at the retail shopping complex, the day after Black Friday.
— image credit: CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter

The biggest shopping season of the year was right around the corner, and earlier this week, a regional retail complex in Kent was gearing up with high hopes.

“Obviously Black Friday is a big day for us,” said John Hinds, general manager of Kent Station, of the day that officially opened the Christmas shopping season. “This is really our time of the year.”

The recession may be alive and well, but for Kent Station, Hinds said, business actually has been up – “we’re really happy – our comparison sales have been in the double digits all year,” he said. “This is a very good sign – not only for Kent Station, but also the economy.”

With Kent Station poised at the start of the holiday shopping season, he expects the pace to become even more lively, as people begin arming themselves with lists and a resolve to pile up some presents.

“Last year we were just overwhelmed by the number of people who came,” Hinds said of Black Friday. “This year we anticipate being even busier.”

There may have been a political element to shoppers’ motivation this year – perhaps an optimistic gesture from shoppers as the end of a brutal mid-term campaign season came to an end.

“Since the election, it’s been even busier here,” Hinds said. “I think people are kind of tired of saving, and they’re spending money.”

In keeping with the crack-of-dawn mentality of the big box stores, which pioneered the use of ungodly morning hours on Black Friday, Kent Station also will see early hours among its merchants.

As it had last year, Bath & Bodyworks will open 6 a.m. on Friday.

“It was very busy,” said store manager Nicole Tosh, of last year’s crowds that filled her shop Kent Station. “We started off a little slower than some of the big box stores, but it was just a really big day.”

Tosh is expecting to see more of the same this year. She’s hoping customers will stick around to get a full impression of the shop’s wide array candles, room oils, candle holders, soaps, lotions and shower gels.

But for every shopper who gets up early to greet the new holiday buying season, there are employees who have to get up ahead of them, to make sure the stores are good to go.

To prepare its workers and keep morale up, Tosh said her company had an offsite meeting to get “everybody pumped and excited,” about the shopping season.

She’ll also make a contribution of her own – going next door to Claire’s jewelry store, where she’ll purchase holiday earrings for her staff.

“I buy all the girls a pair of holiday earrings – they seem to like it,” Tosh said of her workers, which last year and this year happened to be all female.

They’ll be well-fed on Black Friday, too.

“We’re doing a potluck,” Tosh said.

Clauses come to visit

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive 10 a.m. Saturday to Santa’s Cottage, located on the Fountain Stage in front of AMC Theatres. Mrs. Claus visits each Saturday and Sunday. Pets are welcome.

Santa hours:

11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

4-8 p.m. Dec. 1, 2,3 (Wednesday through Friday)

11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 4,5 (Saturday and Sunday)

4-8 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, 10 (Wednesday through Friday)

11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 12-23

Learn more: www.kentstation.com

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