SUNBURY, Ohio (WCMH) – The consensus among many early morning shoppers at the Tanger Outlets in Sunbury was Black Friday, as with many other things in 2020, felt different.
“It’s not as much fun,” said Barb Ritchie. “Usually we’d get up, say, in the middle of the night and go, watch people, talk to different people while we’re waiting in line.”
Ritchie, her daughter and granddaughter were the first people in line at the Coach store Friday morning. The family typically takes their first Black Friday shopping trip before Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner they head back out for Thursday evening deals, return home for a short rest and then start a marathon day of shopping early Friday morning.
This year, the outlets opened at 6 a.m. and overnight crowds were non-existent.
“It’s weird. I think a lot of online sales have stopped people, but we like doing the brick and mortar. We like seeing things and touching things. We like the crowds, so hopefully it gets busier today,” said Melissa Chilcote, Ritchie’s daughter.
After doors opened, the crowds grew. At some points, limited capacity required customers to queue outside and stand on social distancing markers. Per a state mandate and company policy, all Tanger employees, security, retail workers and customers are required to wear masks at the shopping center.
Some shoppers said they appreciated the safety measures and felt they didn’t take away from the experience.
“A lot of stores have put a lot of things in place with the social distancing, so that’s really the biggest difference,” said Christina Anderson. “But we still got up early, there are still long lines so it’s not too bad.”
“With everything, all the sales that are going on, it’s kind of the same,” added Anderson’s friend Rosita Torres. “There are the masks and the lines, but we’re kind of used to it by now being in the pandemic for a few months. So it still feels like Black Friday.”
If you don’t want to brave the crowds, some shops are offering contactless payment and curbside pickup in designated areas of the parking lot.
For a list of hours and stores at the Tanger Outlets, click here.