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'Hustle and bustle'

by Gary A. Harki

STAFF WRITER

BRIDGEPORT -- The hard-core Black Friday shoppers know what they are getting into before they rise at 4 a.m. and drive to the stores.

Take Dave Bennett, for instance. He stood in line at Wal-Mart at 6 a.m. Friday to get his hands on a DVD player, and he knew he would still be out at 4 p.m.

"The van is full," Bennett said. "This is the only day I go shopping and don't complain."

Not complaining and taking the day as it comes seem to be the trick to braving the busiest shopping day of the year.

Scott Biddle is the store manager of Bridgeport's Target, which is experiencing its first Black Friday at Meadowbrook Mall.

"Turnout has been fantastic," Biddle said. "For as many people as there are, and with having to deal with the rain, everyone has been phenomenal."

The weather didn't keep many from pursuing that perfect gift. The Meadowbrook Mall parking lot was still filled beyond capacity at 3 p.m. Friday.

Elder-Beerman opened its doors at 6 a.m., along with many other stores. The store handed out 500 $1-off coupons to customers waiting for the store to open. The coupons were gone by 6:20 a.m., said store manager Scott Williams.

Not everyone started at 6 a.m., however. Dorothy Woodall didn't start her shopping day until noon.

"So far, everyone has been very friendly," Woodall said. "I usually shop today because I am from the southern part of the state. I come here to shop with my grandchildren."

Bob Hertzog, store manager of Toys-R'-Us in Bridgeport, said business was up this year.

One of the toy store's top sellers was the Game Boy Advance SP Gold, a video game machine that sold out early Friday, Hertzog said.

"The customers were very nice and understanding," Hertzog said. "It's always easier to work when everyone is so cooperative. The people that come out today know what they are getting into."

Tracy Williams believes she knows why everyone seems to be in such a good mood, despite the madness -- the rude people don't last long.

Williams goes shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving every year, along with five other women in her family. She has spent a couple of hundred dollars, but spending is not the main reason to go out, she said.

"I like the hustle and bustle," Williams said. "It puts me in the holiday mood."