NEW ULM - While there were no frenzied hordes of shoppers or protesting workers as reported in some larger cities across the country Thursday, New Ulm's larger retail outlets reported brisk Black Friday sales.
Named Black Friday since it was traditionally when big retailers turned a profit or moved from the red into the black, retailers opened as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Most stores extended their weekend closing hours to accommodate more shoppers.
"We had a crowd waiting outside the door when we opened Thursday night," Herberger's Store Manager Melissa Braulick said late Friday morning. "Home department sales really went well. It's been busier this year in every department."
New Ulm Target Senior Team Lead Holly Kitzberger said the largest crowd anyone has ever seen outside the store stretched around the south and east side of the building, facing Broadway.
"It was the largest crowd we've seen, hundreds of people," Kitzberger said Friday morning. "Electronics like televisions and Ipads were the hottest items. We're still really busy."
New Ulm Menards General Manager Kevin Danielson said there were several hundred people waiting for the store to open at 6 a.m. Friday. "Ladders, drills, toys and candy were among the best sellers," Danielson said. "It's a wonderful turnout, as busy or busier than I've seen in the past. We had lots of good comments about not opening until Friday. We have lots of items with a two-day sale this weekend and more sales into December. Our toy drive donation box has been quite full too."
Shoppers reported the Walmart Supercenter parking lot was full when the store opened Thursday night. Local store management referred media inquiries to the company's corporate headquarters.
"This has been the most successful Black Friday in Walmart's history with customers receiving bigger and better savings and an overall safer shopping experience," reported Wal-Mart Corporation Communications Vice President David Tovar. "We're proud of the hard work our associates put into making this a great Black Friday for our customers. We're pleased we can provide them (associates) with holiday day equal to an additional day's work, and a 25 percent discount on an entire basket of goods for their extraordinary efforts."
The Walmart statement said the company is not surprised to see those trying to change the retail industry using the Black Friday platform to get their message out. "We respect their right to be heard...Most of our workforce is full-time that averages $12.81 an hour plus performance-based bonuses, education benefits and 401k access."
Christkindlmarkt 2013, free to the public, continues at 10 a.m. Saturday at the New Ulm Event Center, 301 20th St. South with the Strolling Violin Sounds of Christmas, Concord Singers, Sleepy Eye Area Concertina Club, Reindeer Romp, SPOTS Puppet Wagon, St. Paul's Living Nativity and NUACT's The Elves and the Shoemaker. For more information, visit newulmchristkindlmarkt.com
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com.