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Black Friday shoppers seek bargains, spend cautiously

Hungry for bargains, but a little more cautious about how much they will spend this Christmas shopping season, shoppers were out early for the big ticket items with the lowest price tickets.

Black Friday shoppers - some regulars and some first-timers - were out even before the sun today.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States - traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The name refers to the beginning of the period in which retailers hope to operate in the black.

Equipped with newspaper advertisements, and often coffee to sustain them or a cell telephone to communicate with family members at other stores, area residents fought the crowds for chances to fill their stockings for less this year.

Ken Heilman, of Monessen, said he was a first-time, and last-time, Black Friday shopper.

"I'll never do it again," Heilman said. "There were too many people. You've got to love people to do this."

Heilman and his wife, Paula, were among the early morning shoppers at Wal-Mart in Rostraver Township. Sales on electronics brought them out.

Dennis Stitch, of Fallowfield Township, said he goes out the morning after Thanksgiving if items on his Christmas list are on sale.

"We got two items we wanted and we're going home," Stitch said.

Janice Sandy, of Fellsburg, left Kmart in Rostraver Township with gifts in tow. She is a semi-regular Black Friday shopper.

"It all depends on what's in the ads," Sandy said. "I just left Wal Mart. It was really crazy there."

Not all shoppers went home happy.

Long lines snaked through Wal- Mart, and in some cases shoppers waited in converging lines for the same items.

Brent Chaikcic, of Vanderbilt, said he is a regular shopper at Wal-Mart. Leaving the store before 5:30 a.m., he said the item he sought was gone already.

Likewise, Russ Durstine, of Monessen, said he arrived before the Wal-Mart sales began at 5 a.m. Faced with what he felt was a wait of more than an hour, he left without getting the 8 gigabyte MP3 player he sought.

"I'll be at Kmart at 6," Durstine said.

Shoppers were mixed on how much they would spend this year.

Dennis Fowler, of Washington, Pa., said she expects to spend less this Christmas than last year, but about the same as she does for most holiday shopping seasons.

But Lee Darrell, of Arnold City, said he will probably spend more.

Waiting in a long line at Wal-Mart for a couple bargains, Joanne Santora, of Belle Vernon, said she expects to spend much less this year.

"Mainly, it's the economy," Santoro said. "Even though some things are coming down (in price), it's been a rough year."

Lynn Bozik, of Charleroi, was shopping this morning with her daughters. Bozik said she expects to spend less this year.

Likewise, Gloria Buyers, of Clover Hills, made her regular Black Friday rounds. She waited 45 minutes for bicycles at Wal- Mart before heading to Kmart for an electronic sweeper. She summarized the mood of local shoppers this morning.

"I'll probably spend less this year - and I'll spend it wisely."

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