Marysville shoppers turn out for Black Friday

Smokey Point’s Mitch Rothenberger made a relatively late start to his Black Friday on Nov. 26 by arriving at the Marysville Fred Meyer shortly after 6 a.m. to buy family board games. - Kirk Boxleitner
Smokey Point’s Mitch Rothenberger made a relatively late start to his Black Friday on Nov. 26 by arriving at the Marysville Fred Meyer shortly after 6 a.m. to buy family board games.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Long lines and crowded aisles at area “big-box” stores contrasted sharply with relatively sparsely populated streets in Marysville’s downtown during “Black Friday” on Nov. 26.

Marysville’s Scott Boersma earned his place at the front of the line for the Lakewood Best Buy’s Black Friday sales, which started at 5 a.m. on Nov. 26, by setting up camp in front of the store at noon on Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving.

“It’s become our tradition to have Thanksgiving in a trailer right here in the parking lot,” said Boersma, who’s weathered five Black Fridays waiting outside of Best Buy stores, four of them in Lakewood, and has managed to be first in line for the past two years at the Lakewood Best Buy. “We tag-team it so that we keep someone here all the time. We had a big military dome tent to help keep all 15 of us warm and dry.”

Boersma and his family were joined by the family of fellow Marysville resident Curtis Wheaton, who appreciates the social aspect of camping out for Black Friday sales.

“We cook our Thanksgiving meals at home and bring them out here,” Wheaton said. “If we have enough, we’ll usually feed the folks who are next in line, and give them some coffee and cocoa too.”

Boersma estimated that he typically spends between $3,000 and $4,000 during Black Friday, but he noted that many of those purchases go toward Operation Stop, which seeks to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

“The most we ever spent was $9,000, but we saved more than $12,000 by doing it on Black Friday,” Boersma said. “It’s almost always on laptops, netbooks, flat-screen TVs and Blu-ray players.”

Even with the area’s first snowfall of the winter shutting down many roads and businesses, Lakewood Best Buy General Manager Andrea Chriscaden saw a steady increase in sales during the week leading up to Black Friday, and identified replacements of and upgrades to portable computers and flat-panel televisions as their consistent sales leaders for the past few years.

The recently opened Arlington Walmart received a number of Marysville customers, as even first-time Black Friday shoppers like Ash Farley were able to get in-demand items such as laptops and Blu-ray Disc players with a minimum of fuss.

“I got some things for my wife because she’s worth dealing with the hassle,” said Farley, who came from Marysville shortly after 5 a.m. “There really hasn’t been any hassle, though. Everyone’s been awesome and very helpful.”

“I think a lot of people still don’t realize that this Walmart is open yet,” said fellow Marysville resident Kayla Shipley, a second-year Black Friday shopper who described her experience this year as “not nearly as crazy” as the sales rush she witnessed last year. “I think more people are seeing what’s available online, because even the cost of shipping can be well worth it.”

Fortunately for Shipley, her Marysville house is a five-minute drive from the Arlington Walmart, so after she showed up at midnight and waited until 2 a.m. to receive a reservation bracelet for an Xbox, she was able to go home and watch TV until she had to return at 5 a.m. to collect it.

Arlington Walmart Store Manager Leon White recalled that shoppers began lining up at 8 p.m. on Nov. 25 for the official start of Black Friday at midnight on Nov. 26, but described the customers as cooperative and courteous overall.

“Our business has been absolutely huge, but everybody’s been really friendly and there haven’t been any real issues,” White said. “We’ve just tried to get them what they need and get them checked out as fast as we could.”

Smokey Point’s Mitch Rothenberger made a relatively late start to his Black Friday by arriving at the Marysville Fred Meyer shortly after 6 a.m. A first-time Black Friday shopper, Rothenberger was motivated more by insomnia than by any dedication to bargain-hunting.

“It’s what happens when you wake up at 4 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep,” Rothenberger laughed, as he balanced a cup of coffee in one hand with an armful of family board games. “I might as well just make the rounds. It only took me about 20 minutes to get through the [Lakewood] Target.”

While the “big box” stores saw brisk sales, the only locally owned business in Marysville’s original downtown that reported a bump from Black Friday was Kuhnle’s Tavern.

“This morning, we had about 12 people waiting outside the door for us to open at 10 a.m.,” Kuhnle’s Tavern bartender Linda Best said on Nov. 26. “Usually, we have maybe four at the most.”

Around the corner on Marysville’s Third Street, Marja Oosterwyk dismissed suggestions that Black Friday might benefit her or her neighboring merchants.

“Look at our streets,” said Oosterwyk, owner of the Dutch bakery that bears her name, as she gestured to Third Street’s mostly empty sidewalks on Nov. 26. “We’ll get more traffic in the afternoon, as people finish shopping at the ‘big box’ stores, but it won’t be more than our regular afternoon traffic. In fact, it’s shaping up to be pretty slow.”

Just down the block, Ron Martinez deemed Black Friday irrelevant to his business.

“Our customers aren’t the sort who are going to rush in,” said Martinez, owner of Hidden Hill Antiques on Third Street, as half a dozen shoppers browsed through his aisles Nov. 26. “They buy at their leisure. There’s no sales-driven urgency to it. What matters to them is whether we have the vase that they’re looking for, not how many of them they can get for a discount. Our customer base doesn’t overlap with the Black Friday shoppers at the ‘big box’ stores.”

According to Martinez, his heaviest sales days are those leading up to and immediately following Christmas.

“We do well with people who are looking for gifts for themselves and others, but right after Christmas is our busiest time, because that’s when people use the money they get to buy what they really want,” Martinez said.

Melissa Taylor of Poulsbo and Linda Burgess of Olympia were among the antique aficionados who shunned the larger stores to check out Martinez’s selection.

“This is the day of the year when we go to places where the crowds aren’t,” Taylor said. “I’m very impressed with the quality of what I’ve seen here.”

Across the street in Carr’s Hardware, Everett resident Colleen Wartelle and her granddaughter Haley continued an annual tradition.

“We started shopping in Marysville on this day because Haley’s big brother would always go do things with his grandpa,” Wartelle said. “We’ll pick out a pre-Christmas toy, get something sweet to eat at the bakery, and maybe pick up some gifts and cards at the pharmacy. Marysville is just a great small town with such interesting little shops. It’s easy to have a good time here.”

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