Vignettes Of Black Friday

It was cold and dark, with the end of Thanksgiving only four hours old, when Ines Wishart awoke, donned a hat and winter’s coat and stood in line under the pale glow of parking lot lights at the Lord & Taylor in Westfield, N.J., for Black Friday.

“We really want to support the downtown and the businesses here after what happened,” said Ms. Wishart, 49, a teacher who lives in Westfield and was without power for a week after Hurricane Sandy.

Around the region, shopping centers and downtowns that had been frozen by the late October hurricane bustled with shoppers during paperboy hours on Friday. Some, like Ms. Wishart, said they came out of a sense of civic duty to help hometown businesses recover revenue. And others, like Genevieve Cece, 33, a homemaker who lives in neighboring Clark, N.J., and lost power for four days, said shopping was a way to put behind them the storm’s bad memories.

“You come out to shop and get back to normal. You’ve got to move forward with your life,” she said, carting a Lord & Taylor bag from the store.

For the majority of Friday’s insomniac consumers, the motivation to stimulate the local economy was far more personal than public. When asked for whom they had gotten up at 4:15 a.m. to shop, Westfield residents Susie Katz, 51, and her daughter Maddie Katz, 17, answered in unison.

“Ourselves,” they said.

A line of perhaps 150 shoppers snaked from the front door of the Westfield Lord & Taylor deep into the parking lot, and when a church bell tolled five times, dozens more ran up to the line from their idling cars. A woman just inside the door handed out coupons worth $20. By 5:15 a.m., the lot was full, save for the parking spots furthest away. Some shoppers sprinted the length of the lot, trailing huffs of vapor that hung like clouds.

“I wanted that extra $20 off,” said Jodi Marvosa, 45, a caterer who lives in Westfield, who bought pajamas, boots and a sweater.

Linda Coleman, who works in education and lives in Westfield, came to the store with her daughter Danielle Coleman, 26, just for the experience.

“It seemed like an adventure. I mean, who gets up at 5 o’clock to shop?” she said. “I’m shocked by how many people are inside.”

Elsewhere, the early Black Friday scene was less manic. At the Hudson Mall in Jersey City, which was closed for weeks because of storm damage, Devlyn Courtier, 21, who works at Hudson County Community College, was the only one in line outside the Game Stop at 4 a.m. He said he woke at 3 a.m. and walked to the mall in order to buy a PlayStation system for his girlfriend.

“I wanted to make sure I was one of the first people here,” he said.

He added that he knew that the mall had been affected by Sandy, but was surprised by its condition.

“You wouldn’t notice it now,” he said. “It looks like nothing happened.”

For some early morning shoppers, the party started Thanksgiving night and just didn’t stop. Brittany Dannunzio and Lindsay Laguna, both 19 of Scotch Plains, drove to Tinton Falls in Monmouth County to shop from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Then they spent a couple of hours in a chrome-covered diner and counted down until the Lord & Taylor’s in Westfield opened at 5 a.m.

“I plan on sleeping sometime — I just don’t know when,” Ms. Dannunzio said later, outside the Victoria’s Secret in downtown Westfield.

When the store’s doors unlocked at 6 a.m., the two young women squealed, “It’s open!” and charged inside. Ms. Laguna said that they would soon go to “whatever opens up next.”

For other sleepless shoppers, the morning was more frustrating. Cagla Yavuz, 19, and Yasemin Karamete, 20, of Westfield, spent an anxious night sipping tea and pinching each other to keep from falling asleep only to leave Lord & Taylor empty-handed at 5:15 a.m., grumbling about the crowds.

“Never again,” Ms. Yavuz said. “We didn’t even try anything on. People were pushing and shoving — the lines were ridiculous.”

Ms. Karamete, who had hoped to buy some Ugg boots, said she was now looking forward to shopping on the day after Christmas.

— Nate Schweber

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