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Black Friday excitement reigns in Auburn area

Small businesses making moves with own Small Business Saturday
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Black Friday was a red-letter day for Auburn stores and shoppers as perfect weather conditions teamed with hard-to-resist bargains to lure crowds out for the annual post-Thanksgiving business kick-off to the Christmas season.

Temperatures reached the low 70s in Auburn and shorts replaced the overcoats of earlier this week for a Friday that drew throngs to the city’s traditional shopping areas of Old Town and Downtown as well as outlying stores.

Friday marked the start of the first Christmas season for six-month-old Rakish-n-Luxy in Old Town and manager Skye Toro said the men’s and women’s clothing store was off to a good start.

A 50 percent off sale had customers arriving steadily throughout the day – and buying. By early afternoon, Toro said she was already sold out of leggings.

Toro said the mix of shoppers had included tourists as well as new customers.

“It has been very busy,” Toro said. “I still haven’t eaten my lunch. In fact, it’s been crazy busy.”

At Chic Boutique clothing exchange in the Fiddler Green Plaza, co-owner Patrice Rodgers was contemplating what a difference a year makes. Thanksgiving weekend a year ago, a burglar threw a billiard ball through Chic Boutique’s front window and cleaned out a large swathe of the shop’s inventory.

With new electronic security measures in place, Chic Boutique was ready for a repeat and also looking forward to a non-eventful but busy holiday shopping season.

Friday was a good day with a steady stream of customers arriving at the store starting in the late morning, Rodgers said.

“Christmas is definitely a big time of year for us,” Rodgers said.

At Target, Doreen Buck and Patrick Delehanty emerged with a gift for Buck’s mother and a coffee-making system for themselves that they hadn’t expected to buy, but couldn’t resist a 33 percent discount on.

Delehanty said he may be returning after measuring the couple’s TV stand to see if a new television they saw inside the North Auburn store would fit.

“It’s a good day for shopping but we decided to let the big rush go by but still get in by noon (when some sales at Target ended),” Delehanty said. “It made things easier.”

 Robert Flores, a retired Texas peace officer who has lived in the Auburn area for five years, was working out the intricacies of fitting a bicycle into the trunk of his car after buying it at Target.

The bicycle will be given to a needy child as part of the efforts of the Auburn Elks in the community, Flores said. Members will be bringing toys and canned food to an event on Thursday and the donations will be distributed to families in the area, Flores said.

“It was a little crowded inside but no pushing or shoving,” Flores said.

On Thursday, Flores had driven by both the Target and Kmart stores in North Auburn and decided not to join long lines waiting for door-buster specials. Target opened at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and Kmart reopened at 8 p.m., after being open earlier in the day.

“I looked and said ‘no,’” Flores said. “I decided I would rather spend a couple of extra dollars and come back today.”

Joan Smith, a 35-year Auburn resident, emerged Friday with bargains from Kmart. The purchases includes large metal containers of cheddar popcorn for $2.50 apiece.

“It was busy but not overwhelming,” Smith said. “There were no mobs and crowds.”

That shopping excitement was being spurred to continue Saturday, aided by a credit card company’s promotion.

 Some Auburn-area merchants are participating in a Small Business Saturday program that The Associated Press reports is being employed by thousands of small stores, restaurants and spas across the U.S. to attract business.

American Express created the day three years ago, the report states, to help small businesses struggling during the recession. The credit and charge card company encourages cardholders, who have registered in advance online to make purchases with their cards in exchange for a $25 rebate paid for by American Express, if they buy something at a participating business.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.