January 28, 2021

Houlton stores buzz with bargain hunters

HOULTON – For Thelma Morin, it was the best Black Friday ever.

“This is the first day I’ve shopped for Christmas gifts and I’m more than halfway done,” the Woodstock, New Brunswick, resident said as she prepared to leave the annual Winter Craft and Gift Fair at the Gentle Memorial Building. “I also got a few gifts for me,” she said.

Lisa Miller of Houlton felt equally lucky.

“I got here early so that I could have more of a selection,” she said Friday. “I got two quilts for myself, and I got a Christmas wreath for my house. I come here every year just to buy a Christmas wreath. It is a tradition now.”

The bustling arts and craft fair was just one of the many places packed with shoppers on Black Friday. Throughout the town, parking lots were jammed with cars, restaurants had long lines and full tables, and traffic was heavier than usual.

Both Morin and Miller said they planned to shop in the historic downtown and at businesses on North Road before they headed home.

Miller said that with the difficulties in the economy, she planned to be cautious this holiday season and spend less than she did last year, but Morin said she expected her spending to be roughly the same as last year.

“I pretty much stick to the same budget every year,” she said.

At Wal-Mart on the Ludlow Road, John Billings, the store manager, estimated that more than 500 people were lined up outside the store when the doors opened at 5 a.m.

“It has been a great day so far,” Billings said Friday afternoon. “Things are going very, very well.”

Shoppers were grabbing a variety of items, the manager said, including electronics and toys.

“We’re selling a lot of character toys from the movies,” he said. “Shoppers are buying the normal type of items for this time of year.”

Things were a bit slower at Scraps in downtown Market Square, co-owner Lisa Winship said Friday afternoon.

“We are doing OK today, but it would be nice to have more traffic in here,” she said, adding that she felt shoppers tended to choose the larger big box stores on Black Friday. “We’ve had some people coming in and out, but it could be better.”

A short distance away in Market Square, however, Country North Gifts was “extremely busy.”

“We have had people in here all day, and we’ve had some great sales,” Sandra Saunders, an employee at the store, said Friday. “It has been a good day.”



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