Morning shoppers on the hunt for Black Friday sales in Napa looked a little lonely this year.
The Napa Premium Outlets, the south Napa Target, and the Lincoln Avenue Walmart had plenty of empty parking spaces and little to no wait at check-outs around 8 a.m. Friday.
The diehard Black Friday shoppers were long gone after doing most of their shopping Thanksgiving evening, as stores across the nation advertised special sales starting at 8, 9 and 10 p.m.
Napa resident Stephanie Miller was one of the dozens who stood in line Thursday night waiting for the north Napa Target to open at 9 p.m. She said the line wrapped around the side of the building but, according to a friend of hers, the line last year stretched all the way to Orchard Supply Hardware.
Once she got inside the store, Miller said crowded aisles made it difficult to navigate a shopping cart, but otherwise the shopping experience was “fairly painless” and “not like what you see in the news.”
This was Miller’s first time participating in Black Friday.
“I did it just to see what it was like,” she said. “My husband and I usually try and steer clear.”
Miller said some of the most “amazing deals” she saw were 50-inch TVs on sale for $300 and iPads going for $100. But the north Napa Target ended up not having the items she wanted most: Gaming chairs — complete with speakers — for her children. So Miller ended up going to the bigger Target in south Napa on Friday morning, where she found the chairs at 75 percent off and had the store practically to herself.
“No one was in there,” she said.
Downtown crowds were visible by noon, with groups of shoppers strolling up and down First Street. The fountain outside of McCaulou's seemed like a popular resting stop for men, while inside the department store, mostly female shoppers browsed through clothes. Across the street at Subway, seats were filling up fast as people stopped for quick lunches before heading back to the stores.
Los Angeles residents Suzie and John Clark also were surprised by the lack of early crowds at the Napa Premium Outlets. By 8 a.m. the couple had already finished their shopping and were heading back to a relative’s house in Napa.
Suzie Clark said they’ve participated in Black Friday for at least 10 years, but they visit only the Napa outlet stores.
Several stores at the outlet mall — including Bose, Calvin Klein, and Wilsons Leather — advertised early hours starting at 9 p.m. Thursday. Managers at the stores said they could not comment on Thursday night’s shopping frenzy and referred media calls to their corporate offices.
Clark, a self-described “Cole Haan addict,” said they started their shopping at 7:15 a.m. and were still able to get big discounts. Before 8 a.m., most of the stores offer deals on top of sale prices — like an extra 20 percent off, John Clark said.
Banana Republic, Maidenform, and a cosmetics store were among the places they shopped on Friday. And while the Clarks enjoy finding good sales, they’re not willing to get up at the crack of dawn.
“In the cosmetics store, the deals were before 6 a.m.,” John Clark said. “We’re not going to make that kind of deal.”