Holiday shopping season kicks off in Albert Lea

Published 6:14 pm Friday, November 25, 2022

With the end of Thanksgiving comes another major event: Black Friday and the start of holiday shopping.

Alicia Whitehead, manager at Whimzy, was hopeful everyone manages to get whatever they’re looking for at Christmas.

Whitehead described the toy shop as having “unique” items not every toy store had.

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“That’s what we hope,” she said. “We hope we can provide everyone with friendly service, friendly atmosphere. Everyone is always welcomed here.” 

So far this holiday shopping season, Whitehead admitted the store was doing better than what they did a year ago, though said the busy store was typical for the Black Friday event.

“We have a lot of support from our customers here,” she said. “We have wonderful customers.”

She also expects shopping this year to be better than last year.

“Now that we are able to get out and be with loved ones — we have a lot more family gatherings now — so everyone is able to get out more and be with their loved ones,” she said. “They’re coming in and buying gifts that they didn’t get to last year because they didn’t get to see the ones that they loved.”

Andrea Strom, who works at Junktion Market, which opened at 10 a.m., said shopping was good, a trend from last year.

“We were giving away gift cards to the first 20 customers, they’re all gone,” she said. “Good business so far.”

She said even during the pandemic she received local support and was excited for this year.

“Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are of course two of our biggest days, and we’re hoping with the weather people didn’t leave town and they’ll still consider shopping local and small,” Strom said. 

Strom also admitted shopping could slow down after the shopping weekend considering it was a late shopping weekend for the holiday season.

Angela Moller from Homestead Boutique said the morning rush was “great” and the turnout was what they expected.

“We had excited shoppers waiting outside the door when we opened up this morning, and it’s been busy ever since,” she said. “We opened at 10, everyone’s in the Christmas spirit, excited to shop local.”

Moller described the last few years of customer turnout as great despite the pandemic and said she saw growth every year.

“I think [customers] appreciate what we have here in town and are really making an effort to support our local businesses,” she said. 

According to Moller, she had seen people start their holiday shopping as far back as October either visiting for ideas or purchasing to spread out expenses.

“Some folks just like to get their shopping done really early so that they can kind of sit back and enjoy the season and enjoy the festivities and not have to worry about their shopping list.”

Carissa Meneffe, who is from Bemidji and was visiting family, decided to stop by Whimzy Friday morning.

“We thought it was a great day to do some Christmas shopping, and we’ve heard great things about this toy store,” she said.

Tonya Telles was at Junktion Market, which she described as one of her favorite stores. She also loved supporting local stores.

“They have unique gifts for everybody,” she said.

Telles wanted to be there on Black Friday and described the event as a fun adventure.

“You find good deals,” she said.

And though she hadn’t originally planned on purchasing anything, she still found stuff to buy.

“When you shop your small business, you’re really helping out not only this town but a lot of other people that live in this town that work in these small businesses,” Whitehead said. “Shopping local and the small businesses really does help out your friends, family and the community.”