Online only: Elk River area retailers prepare for Black Friday

by Paul Rignell

Contributing writer

A variety of Elk River area retailers are expanding their hours of operation Nov. 25 in hopes of attracting greater business from shoppers who are planning to hit the streets, sidewalks and stores on this “Black Friday.”

David Bury, an executive team leader for SuperTarget of Otsego, looks forward to his store opening midnight Friday which is when most Target stores will open for the day’s retail boom after opening at 4 a.m. in 2009 and 2010.

Bury said that, in a way, Target workers are anticipating a new day for sales Friday like any Friday or any other day of the week year-round. “There’s always lots of excitement at Target when we open our doors,” he said.

But, it isn’t treated like every other day. Bury added that team leaders begin to plan for this Friday sometime in mid-summer. He said they cross-train some employees to work in other areas during the season. For example, “You need to be certified in order to be on a register,” he said. “Every position has its own training program.”

Super Target executive team leader David Bury interacts with a customer at the Otsego store.

Most importantly, shoppers planning to do business at Target this Friday should expect to enter and exit the store safely whether they want to take a cart at midnight, noon or any other time of day, regardless which departments they’ll visit. “Guest and team member safety is our No. 1 priority,” Bury said. “We’ll have many measures in place to ensure that people can enter safely. We have a crowd-control plan that’s been approved by many levels in management.”

He said that includes cooperation from local law enforcement agencies such as Elk River police and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office. “They’ve been great partners with us in the past,” Bury said.

He continued: “I think our guests will be really excited to come in and get those door-busters (deals). I think it’s good for Target as well. We expect to be busy.”

Employees at Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Outlet in of Elk River will keep coffee brewing that morning for as long as their customers keep coming to the store earlier than they might — or even could — on a regular Friday.

Chuck & Don’s doors will open at 7 a.m. Nov. 25, two hours earlier than on most weekdays, and guests within those first two hours will be offered free coffee and doughnuts. Guests may appreciate knowing that as they are being fed before buying food or other goods for their pets, Chuck & Don’s is planning to donate one pound of pet food to Second Harvest Heartland for each person who visits in those two hours.

The store sells large selections of toys and leashes in addition to food. Many families wouldn’t think to shop for gifts for close relatives without also buying something for any pets they may have.

“We seem to do very well each holiday season, despite the economy,” said store manager Leeann Eisenschenk. “(Black Friday) is one of our busiest days. We always have a fun, fast-paced atmosphere here.”

Eisenschenk and staff invite customers to make the morning even more festive by bringing along their pets. (Just don’t allow them any looks at what you’re buying, lest any surprises be spoiled for them later at home.) The real benefit for bringing dogs, cats or other appropriate pets into the store 7 to 9 a.m. Nov. 25 is that Chuck & Don’s will give an extra pound of food to Second Harvest for each pet.

Several hours of morning shopping should burn off every calorie from a single doughnut and then some. Should you choose to stay out long enough for lunch somewhere and select one of many available dining options in downtown Elk River, you could walk down the block or turn a corner to find The Great Room, a thrift shop dealing in gently used furniture and other household goods open since 2009.

An operation that is staffed by volunteers in support of the Great River Area Faith in Action ministry, even The Great Room is expanding its hours this Friday. Their doors will open at 9 a.m. with staff volunteers ready to greet their guests with cookies and other refreshments.

“We’re hopeful people will still stroll around downtown,” said Faith in Action Executive Director Denice Freih. “Downtown is hurting, no doubt about it. We notice it. Every day, someone will stop in and say, ‘I didn’t even know you were here.’”

Freih says the store’s selection of home décor may offer great gift ideas for teachers and baby-sitters, and also general stocking-stuffers. Much of the used furniture and other goods on display has come from area estate sales, or through donations when generous community members are either relocating or buying new furniture for their own homes.

The merchandise is arranged on the sales floor by professional interior decorator Sheryl Teigmayer, volunteering her services. Freih also credits volunteer store managers Vivian Schmidt and Shirley Beneke for leading a team of more than 30 other store volunteers.

Volunteer drivers Dave Parish and Peter Leinonen take to the road each Monday, often driving across Sherburne County to pick up new donations for Faith in Action. Some items end up displayed for sale in The Great Room, while others remain in the program’s warehouse space until the goods are shared with other area households when they have a need. Freih said Faith in Action has supplied more than 100 beds to households in need since starting its Furniture for Families program.

For more on Faith in Action’s services, visit www.gra-fia.com.

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