Black Thursday and Gray Friday are the color of money

By Garrison Wells Updated: November 30, 2013 at 10:17 am • Published: November 29, 2013 | 4:50 pm 0

The midnight special at Chapel Hills Mall Friday morning was abuzz with party atmosphere.

One store, H&M, was the star.

Youthful shoppers in party mode were lined up about 60 deep down the hall from the entrance of the store a half hour before it opened.

Spectators watched as the doors opened and the line began to move caterpillar-like, oozing into the wildly popular and ever-so-hip Swedish retail store.

"You could almost feel the floor shake," said a security guard standing at the head of the line.

Explained an H&M staffer who asked not to be identified: "We got a whole bunch of stuff on sale," with prices as low as $4.95.

That sale was expected to last through the weekend, "but it won't last," he said, glancing at the crowds in the store.

Shoppers were lined up 30 deep inside the store just to get into the fitting rooms.

H&M, short for Hennes & Mauritz, opened about a month ago in the north Colorado Springs mall.

The mall wasn't the only shopping hotspot late Thursday night into Friday morning.

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Like a lot of other stores, several Chapel Hills shops started Black Friday on Thanksgiving Day, opening at 8 p.m. Thursday, while others opened at midnight with additional specials for the mall's Midnight Mall Madness.

Some shoppers, in a mad effort to get as many deals as possible, started with the 8 p.m. specials and hung around for the midnight specials.

Linda Casados, who was visiting her grand-daughter Annelise Casados, was among them.

Her granddaughter is stationed at Peterson Air Force Base.

Linda Casados sat on a bench on the second floor surrounded by stuffed shopping bags. Some of the shopping bags were stuffed with other shopping bags.

"I'm baby-sitting the bags," she moaned.

Her grand-daughter and friends from Peterson, grandmom in tow, started shopping at 8 p.m. They were still going strong at midnight - making sure they got a taste of as many deals as possible.

"I probably wouldn't do this," Linda Casados said of shopping on Thanksgiving, "but it is what it is. Thanksgiving is for family."

She'd been sitting for about 20 minutes patiently, noting "it's a good pastime, watching people."

It was more sedate at the mall later in the morning.

From about 7 a.m. through 9 a.m., even with the 8 a.m. specials, there were far fewer shoppers at the mall

If there is such a thing as shopping hangover, this was it.

Ari Fowler, who works at Pyt & Co., a kiosk on the lower level, was there for midnight madness.

He was back at 8 a.m., hawking his hair straightener wares and trying to lure shoppers to his site.

"I like your hair!" he called to one shopper. "Would you..?" gesturing to the kiosk.

She shook her head and passed by.

"Last night, it was really good," Fowler said. "We had a lot of people, a lot of energy. This morning, it's dead, empty, like Black Friday is now on Thursday."

At 10 p.m. Thursday, a whoa-and-go line of cars crawled toward the southbound I-25 exit for the factory outlet stores in Castle rock. Stores along North Academy Boulevard had jammed parking lots.

By Friday morning it was a different story.

The Black Friday bustle on the east side of town was more like a slow crawl. The parking lot at Super Target on Powers Boulevard and Carefree Circle North was nearly empty at 6 a.m. Friday. There were no lines and hardly any movement to be noted. By 8 a.m. store parking lots along Powers Boulevard cooridor - home to JCPenny, Khol's, Old Navy, T.J.Maxx, Home Deport and more - were about a quarter full.

It was more of a family atmosphere in the morning. Mothers and daughters, father and daughters, fathers and sons, mothers and sons.

For the younger shoppers, having a parent around could be a real buzz killer.

The mall's biggest Black Friday crowd last year's was between midnight to 1:30 a.m., said Sarah Ryals, marketing manager for the mall.

Some people savored a more laid-back approach to Black Friday.

Seven people lined up outside Sephora when the cosmetics shop opened at 7:58 a.m. at the Promenade Shops at Briargate - a placid shopping experience compared to other stores.

"This is the calmer Black Friday," said Leslie Head, among the first to enter. "That was my goal - do not end up on CNN."

She only went shopping because she had to drop her husband off at the airport at 6 a.m. She got some good deals - $25 of cosmetics for $10 at Sephora, and $100 worth of items at Bath & Body Works for $20 earlier in the day.

She'll never understand why people venture into packed stores on Black Friday. Normally she prefers to shop online.

"I think some people just like crazy - they like adrenaline," Head said. "It's like some people go skydiving - some people go shopping on Black Friday."

Around the nation, reports on Black Friday were mixed.

Spokesmen for Sears and Target reported bomming Black Friday business. Because numerous businesses open for some portion of Thursday, some experts say the effect was to take some of exhuberance out of Friday.

"Blacki Friday is now Gray Friday," said Craig Johson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy.

Jakob Rodgers and Monica Mendoza and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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