YORKTOWN, N.Y.-- Toy Store owner Raj Kapur is hopeful that Black Friday will act as a green light for the rest of the holiday shopping season.
Just minutes after unlocking the gray gate that sealed his store, Big Top in the Jefferson Valley Mall, Kapur waited for what he hoped would be an influx of customers-- noting that his morning rush might come around 7 or 8 a.m., not midnight or 4 a.m. like some of the other stores in the mall.
"I'm hoping that Black Friday is the start of the holiday season, that this will jump-start everyone's shopping," he said.
The owner, who admittedly got a few hours of sleep before opening up the store Friday morning, said in recent years each and every store was opening up a little bit earlier and earlier, making Black Friday into a day bigger and more important to retailers.
Feet away from where Kapur hoped to attract his customers for the start of his busiest time of the year, some Yorktown residents who had already done their fair share of shopping slumbered at the mall's "rejuvenation station" nearby. The station was set up and arranged with some new comfy seating, as well as popcorn, games, a fireplace and television, all for the sake of keeping those early birds and dedicated customers feeling good - and energetic enough to shop - throughout the day.
Some of those customers, like Natalia Prando and Amanda Raiano, went to the mall, which opened some stores at midnight and others at 4 a.m., just for the fun and excitement of it all.
"It's kind of a tradition we started last year, so we wanted to do it again this year," Raiano said, with a shopping bag already in hand.
Prando said the day was kind of a jump-start to their holiday shopping.
"We will at least start it today, shop around and see what's out for the holidays," she said.
Shoppers walking the mall were met with the excitement of Mall Manager Jeremy Strife, who was pleased at the turnout the center was getting on the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Although it was Strife's first year at the mall, Joseph Hoffman, the mall's director of operations, said it was an impressive turnout.
"I tell you, I've been here 15 years and this is the most amount of people I have ever seen," Hoffman said. "We had people lined up here early at 3 a.m. just waiting for the stores to open. People were so excited."
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