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Black Friday frenzy proves shoppers will trade online for long lines
Lakeshore Mall stores packed with holiday bargain hunters
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Candler Wiley, pushes her daughter Magnolia, 5, in a cart while she browses deals for baby clothes in Belk at Lakeshore Mall on Black Friday in Gainesville, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

Despite the ever-growing popularity of online shopping, stores around Gainesville were bustling as shoppers braved the crowds after Thanksgiving in hopes of finding Black Friday bargains. 

Cars packed the parking lot at Lakeshore Mall, a popular destination.

For Larry Dalton and his family, Black Friday shopping is a tradition.

“We’ve been Black Friday shopping for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I’m normally the designated ‘holder,’ whether it be for bags or a place in line, but coming every year is always a blast. It’s also just nice to get out of the house after Thanksgiving.”

His daughter, Renee, is a schoolteacher and uses the holiday to stock up on classroom necessities.

“I went to Bath and Body Works just for hand sanitizer,” she laughed. “I keep it everywhere — in my purse, desk — everywhere. I had to get enough to last me another year. With Black Friday prices, I can do that. I don’t even care if I smell like Christmas in July.”

“After we leave here, we are headed to the Mall of Georgia to do some more shopping,” Dalton’s wife, Dawn, said.

Baby and children’s clothing were hot items for many shoppers. Candler Wiley and her friends shopped a large selection of children’s clothes at Belk.

“We don’t come Black Friday shopping every year, but I like it because it’s nice to shop and spend time together. Plus, there’s always the excitement factor of finding something really good that’s on sale,” Wiley said.

“We are definitely going to hit other sections, but I have a daughter, and 60 percent off clothes for her is too good to pass up!”

Jackie Stephens and her sister also shopped for deals on children’s clothing, at J.C. Penney.

“I don’t shop online, and I don’t even own a computer so I have to shop in person,” said Stephens. “My sister hasn’t been out shopping very long, but I’ve been up since 6:30 this morning. This is actually my second round. Right now, I’m looking for clothes for my grandchildren and so far I’ve found them some shirts and jeans, all at great prices.”

Matilda Hall of Clermont takes her shopping seriously, and even wears a special “Black Friday” shirt to show her dedication to the holiday.

“Several of my friends and I have had these shirts for 13 years and we always wear them,” said Hall. “I left my house at noon yesterday and haven’t slept since; that’s 24 hours. So far, I’ve been to 15 stores today and I’m not stopping any time soon. I’m knocking out a lot of my Christmas shopping, and I’m also stocking up on a lot of house stuff, like bed sheets and towels. This year, I even bought a new vacuum cleaner.”

With more than 140 stores at the North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville, General Manager Heather Halpern said it is hard to beat the social experience that can be shared with friends and family on Black Friday, something hard to replicate with online shopping.

“When you’re shopping at North Georgia Premium Outlets, you get the instant gratification of taking your purchase home with you immediately,” Halpern said.