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Black Friday draws early birds

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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Customers wait in the dark for the Black Bird Shopping Center to open Friday morning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Customers search for jean sizes at Black Bird Friday morning.
Black Bird, opening at 6:30 a.m., saw regular and new items despite national supply crunch

On Friday, dark and early, a moderate line of residents stood in line outside the Black Bird Shopping Center, a longtime Medford retailer, for their best shot at getting some holiday deals.

Just inside, Diana Alexander, a semi-retired part-time employee, was ready to open the door at 6:30 a.m. and made a bold pronouncement when she did.

“On your mark,” she said. “Get set ... here we go.”

And with that, Black Friday at Black Bird began.

The store, at 1810 W. Main St., was prepared for the day, said Tyler Quitt, general manager of Black Bird. Not only were half of its employees working that morning but the inventory was plentiful.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Customers search for jean sizes at the Black Bird Shopping Center Friday morning.

Staple items with marked-down prices included Levi’s jeans, Danner boots and wool socks. Also earning a sale tag were some new products, like “specialty” firearms, winter ski jackets, hydroflask, Ooni pizza ovens and Weber grills.

The fact that Black Bird was able to have the inventory it needed for Black Friday, plus some new goodies, was especially notable this year, Quitt said, given all that’s gone on lately with “crazy” supply chain issues.

“We’re grateful for our relationship that we have with our buy group that assists a small store in being able to purchase products,” he said. “But the buyers, the leaders of the departments, have done a great job since the beginning of the year, working on making sure that we’ll be able to place orders and have items for the end of the year sales.”

While inventory is stocked, Black Bird tamped down any trace of a tense environment between customers and employees that have been known to ensue at some national chain stores on the infamous shopping day.

“Since we’ve gotten rid of hourly restraints for sale prices, it’s been a busy day, but it’s never mob mentality,” Quitt said.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Customers search for socks at Black Bird Friday morning.

That said, a chilly, dark morning doesn’t stop “some of those die-hards that have been waiting in line to get limited items,” according to Quitt.

Terre Sequeira, who shops on Black Friday every year, including at Black Bird, said she came early to get boots and Levi’s.

“My husband wears Levi’s,” Sequeira said, before adding with a laugh, “I’ve got to keep him clothed.”

She came to Black Bird to get the iconic jeans because, “I want to keep our local people in business.”

Cheryl Noles was also in line to get jeans for her better half.

“It’s easier to park here, and I don’t have to deal with as big [of] a crowd,” she said when asked why she chooses to get those jeans at Black Bird over some place else. “I know exactly where [the jeans] are at and I don’t have to walk a whole long way to find them — convenient shopping.”

Erica Cox and Elisha Pini, sisters who live in Eagle Point, shop on Black Friday for the great deals.

“We’re always up early and about, so this is something fun we do together,” Elisha said. “We both work for the VA and usually [on Black Friday], we work. So, we’ll shop and go to work.”

Since this Black Friday was actually a rare day off, the sisters said they showed up early to get a jump start on the holiday shopping season.

“If you don’t get here early, a lot of the stuff runs out,” Erica said.

Elisha stood in line to get her boyfriend a firearm. Erica wanted a knife set for her husband, which she found, but also ended up finding some pajama bottoms and slippers for herself.

“I got what I needed, and that’s what I love,” Erica said. “It makes you feel accomplished.”

Quitt hopes his customers don’t lose sight of the fact that Black Friday means they can get deals at Black Bird — which is easy to find, because it boasts the prominent, and iconic, 29-foot feathered friend out front.

“We just refreshed him, so he’s looking his best and ready for a busy shopping season,” Quitt said of the store’s blackbird mascot. “I hope when people think of Black Friday, they think of Black Bird.”

Noles is one of those people.

“The only place I go on Black Friday is Black Bird,” she said.

Throughout the year, Black Bird has “in-store specials,” Quitt noted, but the Friday after Thanksgiving is a special time.

“There’s definitely anticipation to open up that door,” Quitt said. “We all get excited and are ready for that adrenaline rush.”

Alexander, who worked at Black Bird for 20 years, said that Black Friday is “fun.”

“When the customer is happy, we’re happy,” she said.

He is grateful for customers who have shopped at Black Bird this year and last, in the midst of a global pandemic.

“We like to be the store people enjoy shopping at,” Quitt said. “We know we never please everybody, but we do our best.”

Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or kopsahl@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.