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Abt in Glenview Serves Up Free Coffee With Its Early Open

By Jeffrey Danna | Tribune reporter
9:48 a.m. CST, November 25, 2011

Shoppers lining up at Abt Electronics in Glenview Friday morning got a couple surprises: Free coffee and an early opening.

People were walking through Abt's doors well before the scheduled 8 a.m. opening, giving them a jump-start on their bargain hunting.

Co-owner Billy Abt said the retailer on Milwaukee Avenue was bucking the trend of earlier openings this year.

"We want our families to enjoy the holiday," he said. "Some stores are opening at midnight, and that's not exactly enjoying your Thanksgiving."

But that doesn't mean shoppers waited for Abt to open before beginning their Black Friday excursions.

Elmhurst resident Jessica Schroeder said she tried Thanksgiving night to buy a 42-inch TV for $199 at Best Buy, but she was too late.

Walking into Abt, Schroeder said she had more faith on her second try.

"I'm 100 percent confident I'll walk out with a TV," she said.

A non-typical Black Friday shopper, Schroeder said she only jumped on the bandwagon this year because she couldn't afford a TV at full price.

Within minutes, she had found one: a 42-inch LG for $348.

Shoppers such as Schroeder were the types of customers Abt said he was anticipating on Black Friday. He said many people who missed out on the limited sale items at corporate-owned electronics and appliance stores typically come to Abt afterward and find what they want.

Further north in Gurnee, the shopping scene was the opposite of that at Abt, said Michelle Rice, director of marketing and business development for Gurnee Mills mall.

Target and Walmart, located near the mall, opened at midnight Thursday, as did Kohl's, which is attached to Gurnee Mills, Rice said.

"Kohl's had pretty strong traffic," she said. "Their parking lot was almost full."

The mall itself opened at 4 a.m. Friday, and at 6 a.m., eight of the nine parking lots were full, Rice said.

Shoppers were looking for deeper discounts than those they find on a usual day at the outlet mall, she said. For example, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, the department store's discount offshoot, was giving shoppers 40 percent off their entire purchase before 4 a.m., Rice said.

"This has been a very happy holiday Black Friday for us," she said. "Definitely, people are in the holiday spirit. I have not seen one frown."

Rice said the mall had already been seeing a lot of traffic three weeks before Black Friday, which she said she saw as a predictor of a strong holiday shopping season.

Back in Glenview, shopping at Costco on Willow Road was more akin to Abt. For some people, the wholesaler, which opened at 9 a.m., was a final stop after a long morning.

Glenview resident Tony Asghari said that like Schroeder at Abt, he tried in vain to buy a TV at Best Buy. When he got home, he even tried desperately to shop on Panasonic's website but had no luck.

Costco, he said, was his third option. Two days prior, he saw a couple 60-inch TVs selling for $1,200, and he was hoping he could get a discount the day after Thanksgiving.

"We did some construction on the house, so there is a need for two TVs," the first-time Black Friday shopper said.

Skokie resident Lori Wagner also was spending her first Black Friday shopping. She said she had her eye on a Dell laptop at CostCo originally listed at $849 and discounted to $699 on Friday.

"This is probably my only Black Friday shopping," she said. "I'm just glad I got a good night's sleep."

Copyright © 2011 Tribune Company. All Rights Reserved.

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