Brandon Myles was among the thousands of shoppers moving through the corridors of the Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge on Black Friday.
The 32-year-old local resident said he always shops on the day that retailers say helps push them to annual profits.
“Basically, I just look for the bargains,” Myles said, adding he was continuing his search for an iPad.
“That’s something I’d like to get a bargain on,” Myles continued. “It’s for my mom.”
Myles said Black Friday is an annual event for him, regardless of the direction of the local, state and national economic trends.
“I think the economy is trying to pick up,” he said. “Gas is lower. I think it’s trying to pick up.”
Mall parking was scarce between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., but traffic continued to move, with some shoppers pulling out as others arrived.
Chrislyn Miller, the mall’s marketing manager, noted that thousands of shoppers arrived at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, when some mall tenants opened their doors.
“We had another wave at midnight, when other stores opened their doors,” Miller added. She said customer flow remained high but never resulted in a crush, either inside stores or the parking lots.
Miller said a new parking program devised by the mall’s security department and the Baton Rouge Police Department helped people move efficiently.
“It’s working pretty good,” Miller said. “People are in great moods. Everybody’s so happy.”
Baton Rouge resident Deon Johnson, 40, agreed that fellow customers seemed less stressed and more courteous.
In past years, she said, customers sometimes pushed and shoved to get to sale items that were in short supply.
“This time, it’s not like that,” Johnson said. Store owners are not running out of sale items, she said.
Salaydra Sanders, a 20-year-old Baton Rouge resident shopping with Johnson, said she was finding everything on her Christmas list. More importantly, Sanders said, she was finding “the prices I was looking for.”
“We came a long way to shop,” said Dave Huesing, 54, of Aurora, Illinois.
Huesing said he and other family members traveled to Baton Rouge to spend Thanksgiving with daughter Clare Huesing, 23, a biology student at LSU.
“We’ve just been collecting all our coupons, and we cashed them in today,” said Clare Huesing, who is scheduled to graduate in May. “There were a lot of doorbusters today.”
Dave Huesing agreed with his daughter.
“We got some real good deals, and the customer service is great,” Dave Huesing added.
Whether in Illinois or Louisiana, the father added, “We always go out on Black Friday.”
What does he think about the direction of the national economy?
“I’m optimistic,” Dave Huesing said. “Gas prices are down, and people look like they’re spending money.”
There were younger travelers among the moving sea of customers at the Mall of Louisiana.
Caitlin Moore and Sadie Stanchec, both 15-year-old residents of Mandeville, said they were finding everything on their shopping lists.
“Probably more than I need,” Moore said.
“It’s been good,” said Stanchec, who added, “We’ve only been to, like, three stores.”
“My mom drove us,” said Moore, adding, “This mall is a lot bigger than the one by us.”
In Gonzales at Tanger Outlets, parking spaces were few and far between. At 11 a.m., the only available spaces were along the northern edge of the property. But traffic moved steadily.
There was at least one long-distance traveler at that bustling outdoor mall.
Mary Tran, 35, said she moved from New Orleans to Brunswick, Georgia, several years ago.
Tran added she travels to Baton Rouge every Thanksgiving to visit relatives. She said she bought gifts Friday for a younger cousin and her boyfriend.
“I don’t usually do Black Friday, though,” Tran added. “There are just too many people.”
Meanwhile, sales were booming at two small retail outlets in Baton Rouge.
Black Friday sales at The Royal Standard boutique stores at 2877 Perkins Road and 16016 Perkins Road rocketed past the same day’s 2013 performances by the middle of the afternoon.
“We surpassed last year at about 3:30 p.m. at both stores,” said Emily Dykes, The Royal Standard’s vice president.
By 4:15 p.m., Dykes said, both stores appeared headed toward a year-over-year increase of between 10 percent and 15 percent over the previous Black Friday.
All advertised sale items were selling well, Dykes said.
“They had great prices, so that was no surprise.”