NEW ULM - In temperatures cold enough to show the white of their breath, droves of Minnesotans across the state and in New Ulm waited outside businesses overnight Thursday to be the first to get a crack at Black Friday sales.
Many New Ulm businesses opened at the earliest times their history, some starting as early as 3 a.m. Sales were so strong yesterday that several businesses were sold out of advertised products before the sunrise.
New Ulm businesses saw a high attendance turn-out at door opening. Target saw between 200 and 300 people at their 4 a.m. door opening, Kmart saw 200 people at their 5 a.m. opening and Herberger's saw 150 people at their 3 a.m. opening.
Smaller local stores also saw a large turn-out. Lambrecht's Gifts and Runnings Farm and Fleet each had over a hundred people attending their store opening.
Runnings, which offered a gift card for every sale made between 5 and 10 a.m., gave away a total of 5,000 gift cards. The gift cards were equal to 20 percent of the total purchase made, up to $100.
Wal-Mart Supercenter managers were so busy with customers Friday, they were unable to answer phone calls from The Journal.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Holiday crowds gathered on Minnesota Street in New Ulm Friday for the annual Parade of Lights, part of the Black Friday festivities sponsored by the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce and the New Ulm Retail Business Association.
"I got one word to describe it: busy," said Rollo Lentz, manager of Herberger's.
In addition to high attendance, nearly all New Ulm businesses met or exceeded their sales target during the Black Friday buying storm. All local businesses interviewed by The Journal said they exceeded their sales expectations by noon.
Local stores saw the biggest sales in electronics, toys and winter clothing. Target and Kmart sold out of the most kinds of electronics, especially LCD or plasma televisions, by 9 a.m. Several of the televisions Target advertised in the front page of their ads were sold out within 10 to 15 minutes of the store opening. At Runnings, the most popular product was an infrared porch heater which they sold out of in the morning along with some gun safes, spotting scopes and truck boxes.
Kmart store manager Tom Paluch stated that they expected to end up well over their expected sales plan.
"Just about everything did great," said Lentz.