Metro Detroit shoppers get in the holiday spirit for Black Friday

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Troy – It's beginning to look a lot like the holiday shopping season.

Metro Detroit  residents woke up early, took advantage of door-buster deals, scooped up gifts for themselves and others, and ushered in the holiday shopping season on Black Friday.

The mood was festive on the busiest shopping day of the year as shoppers dressed in holiday fare buzzed through stores. In some malls, children stood in line to see that jolly old man, St. Nick.

And then, there were those who were a bit pragmatic.

"We're trying to stimulate the economy as best we can," said former Grosse Pointe resident Brian O'Neill, who came to the Somerset Collection in Troy with his wife, Kristin Kreitler, and their two young children. They now live in Philadelphia.

O'Neill was among 165 million people expected to shop over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to an annual survey of the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The shopping weekend began on Thanksgiving in stores and on line, and concludes on Monday, also known as Cyber Monday.

At Tootie and Tallulah's in Berkley on Black Friday,  Kim Short holiday shops with her daughter Abigail, 12, both of Berkley.

 “Even as people are starting to purchase gifts earlier in the season, consumers still enjoy finding good Thanksgiving deals and passing time shopping with family and friends over the long holiday weekend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Lines have decreased on Black Friday because of online options and deals starting before Friday, according to PwC's 2019 Holiday Outlook report.  Consumers are expected to spend 2.7% more this year, or an average of $1,284 on gifts, travel and entertainment.

Among the Black Friday patrons was Wendy Carmichael, who woke up at 4 a.m. and drove across the Ambassador Bridge from her home in Canada to shop in Metro Detroit.

At Kohl's in Troy, she scored an Instapot for $67 and picked up some clothes and other goodies for her five grandchildren before heading to a grocery store to buy a turkey on sale for 33 cents a pound.

Carmichael said she has been coming to Metro Detroit area for Black Friday shopping for years. "Your selections are much better than in Canada, and the prices are good, even with the (additional) money and duty," she said.

Elizabeth Kladis of Troy and daughter Aliki Hall of Knoxville, Tennessee, shop at Kohl's on Friday.

Troy resident Elizabeth Kladis and her daughter, Aliki Hall, also got up early to shop Friday.  Kladis was especially interested in buying 99-cent poinsettias on special at Home Depot that typically sell for $5. She bought 20.

"I plan to give them away, to people in my neighborhood," she said.

Down the street at Somerset Collection, the mall has been busy for the past two weeks, said spokeswoman Linda McIntosh. That's because Thanksgiving fell late in the calendar this year, leaving one fewer week for shoppers to buy gifts before the holidays arrive.

"It's a shorter shopping season," said McIntosh. "So people started shopping earlier."

Zahraa Zahr arrived an hour before the 8 a.m. Somerset opening with her mom, grandmother, cousin and sister to avoid the crowds.

From left, Stacey Stewart of Dearborn, her daughter Zahraa Zahr, 16, niece Gabby Ujkic, 12, of Almont, and daughter Soukayna Zahr, 13, talk with mother/grandmother Karlene Stewart, also of Almont, during their Black Friday shopping trip at Somerset Collection in Troy.

While the 16-year-old from Troy bought some clothes, including half-price pajamas to match her sister's, Zahr said she was primarily looking to get a new iPhone. "We're going to switch plans so if you buy one (phone) you get one free,."

Meanwhile, Warren resident David Sophiea bought a pair of $650 Gucci sneakers for a friend at Saks Fifth Avenue, and got a $75 gift card with his purchase. Sophiea also bought a $300 jacket and $80 T-shirt from MCM.

Sophiea started his shopping Thanksgiving night, stopping by Walmart on his way home from his family's dinner. He paid $10 for a $40 Sharpie marker set, and $250 for a $389 iPad.

"I make a point of not doing anything before we have Thanksgiving dinner," said Sophiea, a graduate student at Wayne State University's school of business.

Alex Altaweel, left, 15, of Troy, and his cousin pull on the locked door at REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) in Troy on Black Friday. Since 2015, REI has closed its doors on Black Friday as part of the #OptOutside movement. The company pays its13,000-plus employees to reconnect outdoors with family members and friends over the holidays.

But some were waiting to hit independent stores for Small Business Saturday, an effort to encourage shoppers to shop local on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

"I'm not a Black Friday person," said Marilyn Brady, a Hazel Park resident, who nonetheless ventured out to Tootie and Tallulah's, a small gift shop in downtown Berkley.

"There are people who are crazy who shop on Black Friday," she said "They grab stuff out of your hands ... But I love the season. And little independent shops."

'Not all stores were open on Friday, either.

REI — the outdoor clothing and gear store with four locations in Michigan —  closed its doors on Thanksgiving and Black Friday for the fourth consecutive year, asking customers and others to opt to be outdoors instead.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also invited residents to join the Black Friday #OptOutside movement, waiving the Recreation Passport entrance fee at the 103 state parks.

Staff Writer Sarah Rahal contributed