By Adam Smith
The North Jefferson News
“Black Friday” took on another meaning Friday for shoppers in Fultondale as a brief power outage in the city left the Colonial Promenade shopping center in the dark.
Those looking to take advantage of sales at the center’s 17 stores were, in some cases, turned away by store managers while others continued to shop in dimly lit stores. Power was finally returned to the shopping center shortly before 10 a.m., after being off for about an hour.
“The power did go off momentarily, but we got it back on at the shopping center,” said Mayor Jim Lowery. “We’re just glad Alabama Power responded quickly.”
With the absence of traffic signals, public safety officials manned intersections to keep traffic moving smoothly, Lowery said.
Alabama Power Spokesperson Carrie Kurlander said the outage was the result of a breaker that failed at the Fulton Springs substation at about 9 a.m. She said power was fully restored to the shopping center within 40 minutes and power was restored to the city within an hour and 15 minutes. She said about 1,300 customers were affected.
At Maurices, shoppers continued to browse for clothes in the dark. Store manager Susan Aaron said her store’s backup system enabled customers to still pay for merchandise.
“It’s happened to me plenty of times in retail, but it’s never happened on ‘Black Friday,’” Aaron said of the outage. “But everyone’s full of the Christmas spirit and we’ve had really happy customers.”
Despite the outage, the shopping center’s parking lot was full and some shoppers turned out before daylight to take advantage of sales at the center’s anchor stores, Best Buy and Target.
Aaron, who opened her store at 8 a.m., said she had people knocking on her door at 7 a.m. “When I pulled up at 6:45 this morning, the entire shopping center was full,” she said.
Shoe Department manager Veronica Groce said her store opened at 7 a.m. and had also seen steady business. She feared the power outage would affect sales at the shopping center.
“This is definitely ‘Black Friday,’” said said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Donny Headley of Gardendale said Best Buy was the first stop of the day for him and his family. They had come to the electronics retailer in search of a Nintendo Wii. He said he was “disappointed” the power was out, but added, “We love coming to Fultondale to shop.”
Other shoppers, like Laura Washington and Samantha Crocker of Gardendale, shopped at other locations before coming to Fultondale.
“We’ve been out since 4 a.m.,” Washington said. “We were at Wal-Mart. ... It was crazy.” However, they said despite the large crowds, the day-after Thanksgiving deals were worth the trouble.
An estimated 55.1 million shoppers were expected to take advantage of day-after Thanksgiving sales, according to figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF). Other figures indicate that many of this year’s post-Thanksgiving shoppers will be young adults, aged 18-24.
“Though some people incorporate holiday shopping into their Thanksgiving traditions, others wait to see how good the deals are before they set their alarm clocks for Friday morning,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin in a press release. “Retailers know that customers are looking for good values this holiday season and many will be offering prices and promotions that are too good to pass up.”
The NRF’s “Black Friday” numbers were expected to be released on Sunday.
By Adam Smith