Local merchants welcome deal-hunters

There may not have been the early morning hordes of deal hunters reported at the Glendale Galleria or the Best Buy electronics store in Burbank, but Black Friday still meant brisk business in La Cañada Flintridge.

Lines ebbed and flowed throughout the afternoon at the Home Goods store in La Cañada Town Center, where Tomas and Delia Cookman stood out from the bustle with a haul that included a large Buddhist-inspired lawn ornament as well as indoor lamps and boxes of dishware.

"We came in looking for deals," said Tomas Cookman, whose children attend La Cañada and Flintridge preparatory schools.

A group from Boy Scout Troop 555 kicked off the holiday season with a gift-wrapping table at nearby Sport Chalet, collecting donations to support scouting activities throughout the year.

While cashiers there remained busy into the evening, volunteer Andrew Menschick and 16-year-old son Caldwell — assisted by Duggan Burke, 13, and Ian Meltzer, 11 — said that lines at the store that morning had stretched as far as 75 feet.

Small businesses also appeared to be doing well, said La Cañada Merchants Association President Sue Stranger, owner of the Adobe Design gift boutique.

"We had a fantastic day," said Stranger, who was also promoting Small Business Saturday, a national promotion by American Express to encourage holiday shoppers to make a special effort to support their favorite locally-owned retailer the day after Black Friday.

Stranger, who offered shoppers incentives including a shopping-spree raffle and paying their sales tax, said cinnamon-scented candles were perhaps the biggest hit of the day, though jewelry and chocolates also sold well.

Decorative candles also made the hot list at Home Goods, where picture frames, and Christmas decorations "have just flown out the door," said the store's operations manager, Cindy Thieme. Free coffee and tote bags were offered to early shoppers, she said.

The off-price retailer, owned by TJ Maxx and Marshall parent company TJX, has seen an uptick in traffic at its La Cañada store over the past two weeks, said Thieme.

Panos Narkizian of Town Center's Cañada Fine Jewelry & Gifts was optimistic that the holiday shopping season would remain busy there, taking time to distribute fliers outside the store to promote its one-year anniversary sale Dec. 10, 11 and 12.

Stranger said La Cañada merchants tend to expect Black Friday crowds later in the day, after local shoppers venture out for extreme loss-leader deals advertised at large chain retailers.

But this year Stranger enjoyed a morning rush that unexpectedly included quite a few male shoppers.

"The men don't usually show up until Dec. 24," she said.

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