La Crosse area shoppers line up for Black Friday deals

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Plenty of people got up before daybreak to take advantage of Black Friday deals– but this year, the search for bargains looked a little different.

Before the sun was up, the lines stretched outside the doors of plenty of stores in the area, including Blain’s Farm and Fleet, Target and JCPenney’s.

“If there were sales at 10 at night we’d be there—waiting in line,” said Tara Hansen, a shopper.

Her and her family woke up at 4 a.m. on Friday morning to take advantage of the deals.

For many shoppers, Black Friday is a tradition.

“We’ve done this for 20-something years. And these are my granddaughters,” said Pam Hjornevik, who was shopping with Hansen.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many big box retailers elected to not be open on Thanksgiving. Smaller storefronts, like many of the ones in Valley View Mall, no longer can rely on the traffic and have to get a little more creative.

“We can see this trend continuing for the foreseeable future,” said Aimee Awonohopay, the general manager at La Crosse’s Valley View Mall.

The mall offered incentives, including gift bags for some customers.

Smaller storefronts have followed suit.

“It’s been great for the employees, and we want to make sure associates have time with their family,” Awonohopay said.

Shoppers are noticing a difference, too.

The ones we spoke with noticed shorter lines and fewer crowds.

“It’s actually not as busy as it typically is for Black Friday. I remember going when I was little, and it was just packed. Lines everywhere,” said Emily Gardener, a Black Friday shopper.

Still, the mall’s early morning mall traffic was higher than expected.

“I think the walkthrough traffic has been really good this year,” said Merle Briles, the manager at Tradehome Shoes in the mall.

And shoppers, like Hjornevik and Hansen, found plenty to take home.

“We have got a couple cars full,” Hansen said.

“Oh yeah, we have several things in our vehicles,” Hjornevik added.