Black Friday shopping intense in Vernon Hills
Shoppers make their way through the mall in the morning in search of Black Friday specials at Westfield Hawthorn Mall. A possible renovation of the mall is one of the top stories of 2012. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 1:57AM
VERNON HILLS— The holiday-shopping competition grew fierce at Westfield Hawthorn Mall when Sears’ early opening affected neighboring stores.
Having opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, some shoppers used the store to get closer to other attractions inside the mall.
The mall opened at midnight but approximately 200 people, coming through Sears, entered the foyer early and were banging on the gates of Victoria’s Secret, rattling the employees who were scrambling to finish Black Friday preparations.
Just above Victoria’s Secret, Jacob Opyb of Ghost Armor saw hundreds of customers sprinting at him from the exterior mall entrances and upper-level Sears gate.
“The whole thing is crazy because these people were shoving each other and fighting over dresses just two hours after sitting down at beautiful dinner tables sharing what they were grateful for,” Opyb said.
Opyb’s kiosk did not get business until about 12:30 a.m. after customers were able to check out of nearby electronics stores. He said the morning was profitable, but too intense for his liking.
“This is definitely the last time I’m going to work Black Friday,” Opyb said. “People couldn’t get close enough to the counter and I got kicked in the shin far too many times.”
The mall remained busy until 4 a.m. when traffic died down. It spiked by 11 a.m. before some of the stores’ afternoon promotions began.
Libertyville resident Kristen Palic and mother Teresa Huff used that window of time to do their shopping.
“We’re not hard-core shoppers,” Huff said. “Our husbands are off work so we’re taking refuge in the mall. Whatever stuff is left and whatever sales that are still going on will be good enough for us.”
The two women settled on some children’s clothes before heading home.
“I’m told this is slow compared to this morning, but it’s still the busiest I’ve ever see Hawthorn Mall,” Palic said. “It’s a little busier than a heavy Saturday morning, but consistent.”
Alan Arens, of Buffalo Grove, also chose to visit the mall during a slow time. He, however, got a taste of the midnight madness when he waited outside Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.
“We got in the door and stayed maybe 20 minutes before going home to sleep,” Arens said. “It was claustrophobic. The lines were out the door and everyone was sweaty.”
Arens and his friends were waiting in line to buy one sweater. They decided the marginal savings wasn’t worth the hours they would spend in line with people buying in bulk.
The group reconvened at Hawthorn Mall at 9:45 a.m. and finished all their shopping by 11 a.m. Arens bought a pair of shoes, a pair of khaki pants and four flannel shirts.
“I’m a guy; it’s not like I go shopping every week,” Arens said. “These are everyday things I’ve needed for a while. If I waited this long, a few hours more wouldn’t hurt.”
Arens said he went to Woodfield Mall for the experience of Black Friday.