Black Friday frenzy hits northeast Queens – QNS.com

Black Friday frenzy hits northeast Queens

Shoppers take a rest at Queens Center.
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Joe Anuta, Rebecca Henely and Howard Koplowitz

National chain stores in Queens reported robust sales for Black Friday consistent with the record-breaking sales across the country, but some smaller businesses found themselves left out of the retail madness.

“It’s crowded,” said Brenda Jones, who was handing out shopping fliers outside the Queens Center Mall, at 90-15 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, around 10 a.m. “Inside the stores, ooh, it’s very crowded.”

Shoppers lined up Thanksgiving night at the Elmhurst mall and the Sky View Center in Flushing and also stopped by places like Steinway Street in Astoria and the Bay Terrace Shopping Center on Bell Boulevard in Bayside.

The large crowds were visible proof of a strong kickoff to the holiday shopping season, which often supplies half or more of a retailer’s profit for the year. The National Retail Federation reported shoppers spent an average of $398.62 on Black Friday, compared to last year when they spent an average of $365.34.

The strong sales showing around the nation helped power the Dow Jones industrial average up by nearly 300 points Monday for a 2.6 percent gain. Consumer spending is a key barometer of economic activity and accounts for about two-thirds of the nation’s GNP.

Wilda Rivera, 44, and her daughter Marisa Melendez, 17, of Woodside, had arrived at the Queens Center Mall at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving night and were the first on line when the doors opened at 11 p.m.

“We got up and made the turkey dinner really early,” Wilda Rivera said. “This is our first time participating in the event.”

At midnight, a security guard unlocked a row of doors to the main entrance of Macy’s inside Queens Center. Once everything was set, the crowd of about 300 people streamed inside, with some cheering and fist-pumping. The mall remained crowded late into the day, with a number of stores, particularly clothing shops, reporting huge sales.

“It’s going really fantastic today,” said Alexis Yecora, a cashier at shoe store Aldo. “We were really prepared today.”

Maspeth resident Lourdes Orellana, 29, who was shopping on Black Friday with her husband Chris and 8-month-old baby Lily, said lines were also long at the Best Buy near the mall.

“In Best Buy, to get the things we needed we stayed for like two hours,” she said.

In Flushing, many lined up early for doorbusters at Sky View Center, where NYPD officers monitored the crowd. A security guard said about 500 people were camped out in front of the mall, at 40-24 College Point Blvd., starting at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night.

“All this wall was just chairs and blankets,” he said.

Gabriel Masciangelo, the manager of the P.C. Richard & Son over at College Point Center, at 136-03 20th Ave., also reported healthy sales. He said the store was open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. and it sold many televisions, especially 3-D televisions or those that could connect to the Internet.

“It looks like we’re ahead of last year’s business,” he said. “And the goal at the end of the day is to be better than last year.”

But the trend did not extend to places like Austin Street in Forest Hills. Around 11 a.m., shopkeepers on Austin Street were getting ready for business, which usually comes to the shopping strip later in the day.

“It’s a mall and Kmart day today, unfortunately,” said Catherine Chistov, manager of a children’s store on Austin Street.

Radio Active IV on Jamaica Avenue opened at 7:30 a.m. and John Isaacs, the store’s part-owner, said it was “desolate” despite doorbuster sales like $99 laptops.

“Now it’s a little better,” he said around noon as Christmas music blasted from speakers inside the store.

The situation was mixed on Steinway Street. Managers at Bath & Body Works and Gap Kids reported high volume, but Oscar Scampos, a worker at video game store Game Champ, said that store was not doing well.

“We really can’t compete with the big stores,” he said.

Long lines were observed at the national chain Game Stop a few doors down.

Christina Santucci contributed reporting for this article.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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