Stores welcome more shoppers, holiday spirit than last year for busy Black Friday

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — SouthPark Mall in Strongsville was abuzz with shoppers for the unofficial start to the holiday shopping weekend.

“Yeah, I’m looking for Christmas gifts for my wife and my family and actually looking for a pair of boots for myself,” said shopper Matthew Wyman.

For some, like Alison Wendenhof, Black Friday is also about feeling festive.

“Every year, a tradition for me and some of my closest friends is to go shopping here at SouthPark Mall and we just really like to see all the people and everything going on, just to get in the holiday spirit,” Wyman said.

“We wanted to feel the Christmas spirit around everybody. We haven’t seen this in a long time with everybody being here,” said Avi Williams.

Malls in 2020 took a hit from the pandemic as many people felt safer surfing the web for their holiday scores.

The manager at Go! Calendars and Games, Anthony Boey, remembers it well.

“Last year it was just kind of depressing,” Boey said.

Mall management says there was a dip in foot traffic and sales last Black Friday, but this year they say sales are sure to be up.

“I basically check my numbers every half hour and they’re really, really good,” said Boey.

He says they were beyond prepared for the shopping holiday, putting in their orders in April due to supply and shipping issues, but they’re still seeing snags.

“Please be nice to your vendors and retailers. We’re doing the best that we can for you,” Boey said.

The shoppers came early, like Alisson Hernandez-Rodriguez.

“Because it’s Black Friday and we wanted to be here before everybody else,” she said.

Employees like Haneen Mohammed, manager at Totally Tea, did the same. The new business says they were ready for the Black Friday rush.

“We’re just working really hard to make everyone happy,” Mohammed said.

As people looked for the best deals and counted their stash, they also took home a little more cheer than last year.

“There’s a lot more holiday spirit, yeah,” said Wyman.

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