LAKE PLACID - Many Main Street businesses reported improved Black Friday sales over last year's, making some feel optimistic about this year's Christmas shopping season and the economy in general.
Scott Delahant, manager of Lake Placid Christmas Company, estimated that his store's sales would probably end up about 25 percent better than they were on Black Friday 2009.
"So far, we're on track to be better than last year," Delahant said. "So it seems like the economy's turning around a little bit."
The Lake Placid Christmas Company kicks off its busy season Friday, with shoppers crowding the store as they browse for Christmas gifts and decorations.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Groups of shoppers, both tourists and locals, walk on Main Street in Lake Placid on Black Friday.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Marc Galvin, co-owner of the Bookstore Plus, shared Delahant's enthusiasm.
"We had our best Black Friday in over five years," Galvin said, estimating sales were up about 10 percent over 2009.
He said he hopes the good sales are a sign of an improving economy. Normally, Galvin said the best Black Fridays happen when Whiteface Mountain is covered in snow, but it only has a little cover this year - even though its ski center opened for the season Friday.
He and his employees noted that the majority of their shoppers were in good moods and the children were surprisingly well behaved. By the late afternoon, the store wasn't nearly as messy as it has been on other big shopping days.
Galvin said people didn't come in asking for big sales like the ones that can be found at big-box stores in more populated areas. He said people shop in Lake Placid because they treasure the experience of shopping locally in a small town where people are friendly.
That's exactly why Kathy and Sarah Hill were in town, shopping at the Alpine Mall. The Hills travel to Lake Placid every other year or so from the town of Adirondack, on Schroon Lake, to spend the weekend after Thanksgiving here. The men go hunting, and the women go shopping and get spa treatments.
"We're not looking for the big sales on the normal stuff," Sarah Hill said. "We're looking for the unique knick-knacks."
Kathy Hill said the people in Lake Placid are friendly, and she prefers to be able to go from shop to shop rather than being cooped up inside a mall.
"I would never go at midnight and wait in line," Kathy Hill said.
The Hills run a residential construction business, so they said they know how important it is to support small businesses and local entrepreneurs.
Not every store showed improvement in its Black Friday sales this year. Michelle Betters is a manager at Gameday USA, which was an Olympic store last year. The store sold more in 2009 due to the then-anticipated Winter Olympic Games and several winter sports events being held in Lake Placid.
"It was insane," Betters said.
But she said she was pleased with how well the store was doing this Black Friday despite people being scared to spend money in the difficult economy.
"It's been nice and steady today," Betters said.
A good number of tourists visited the store, but also a good number of locals, Betters said. And there were many extended families out shopping together.
Nate Alcott, manager of ADK Outlet, agreed. He said there were many local people shopping Friday, but most of them were bringing relatives from out of town to shop and see the area.
Tupper Laker Joni Stuart, who was shopping at the Bass clothing store Friday afternoon, was one of those locals who had family visiting. She brought them shopping first in Tupper Lake, then to sight-see and shop in Lake Placid.
Stuart said they considered heading to Plattsburgh or somewhere else, but the weather deterred them, and they also wanted to spend money locally.
"We try to keep things local, as local as we can," Stuart said.
She said her relatives made a good number of purchases in the Adirondack-themed stores in the area.
Many of the Main Street shops opened for an extra hour or two at the beginning or end of the day, and some said they planned to do that on weekends for the rest of the shopping season until Christmas.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 25 or email@example.com.