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Jane Kim has spent the early hours of Black Friday at Woodbury Commons for the past five years. Here's her assessment of the scene this time around.
Black Friday at Woodbury Commons is always an experience, to say the least.
This year was no exception. Since some stores opened as early as 9pm yesterday, the past few hours at the outdoor premium outlets proved that Midnight Madness is all about survival of the fittest. Constant drizzle and temperatures in the mid-30s welcomed a throng of sopping and irritable shoppers, which led to a serious lack of holiday cheer. The only plus? More rain meant less traffic—crowds were significantly smaller than they had been in previous years.
Shoppers seemed especially eager to find deals at the high-end designer shops. While the expected high-traffic stores like North Face, Puma, and True Religion boasted neatly organized lines that snaked around several times, almost all of the boutique outlets had to deal with maintaining order in their own lines.
When Burberry opened its doors at 7am, for example, mass chaos broke out as poorly organized lines gave way to a mad rush. They temporarily closed the store after about ten minutes of stampeding shoppers, and Woodbury Commons security stepped in to maintain orderly conduct, megaphones and all. People were still squished to the doors and screaming at each other after the store was closed again.
The Prada crowd was also extreme, on a different level—the first person in line had been waiting at the doorstep since about 1:45am, with the store opening at 5am. Shoppers at Gucci, Coach, and Dolce & Gabbana were patiently queued, with wait times stretching to well over an hour to enter.
Some of the best deals were either unrealized or simply not taken advantage of. Michael Kors offered 20% off any item in the store with prices that had already been severely slashed (handbags ranging from $199 to $399, with an additional 50% off). Longchamp offered 40% off of the entire store. The ever-faithful huge factory outlets (Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, J.Crew) seemed to be sending their shoppers off with at least a bag or two in tow, so we can gather that at least some people were going home happy.
Many also seemed to find great bargains at the department store outlets (Neiman Marcus Last Call and Saks Fifth Ave's Off 5th). Sample findings between the stores include Theory sweaters starting at $60 (orig $200+), a Balenciaga jacket at $351 (orig $1675), and a YSL skirt for $199 (orig $950). Off 5th offers a bigger assortment than Last Call, but comes with a higher price tag—we found the same Leifsdottir cardigan for $39 at Last Call going for $139 at Off 5th.
The dreary weather took a serious toll on the crowd, as the outlets seemed to clear out as early as 4am. The food court looked more like a disaster relief center than anything else—hundreds gathered to get food, get information, or simply pass out on the floor. By 7am, the rain was gone and the parking lot half empty. Black Fridays at Woodbury are not for the weak hearted, folks!
Woodbury is still serving up some post-Thanksgiving holiday deals, so get there before all the goods are gone. The After Thanksgiving event ends on Sunday, November 28.—Jane Kim
· Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets [Official Site]