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Shoppers flood Gurnee Mills

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Updated: December 25, 2012 6:06AM

GURNEE — Buy one, get one 50 percent off. VIP Treatment bag with purchase. $10 off for every in-store $50 purchase. Extra 20, 30, 40, 50 and 70 percent off.

Deals like this were rampant Black Friday at Gurnee Mills. The majority of the malls 200-plus retailers are running sales through Black Friday weekend. Many stores like Build-a-Bear offered doorbuster deals to lure shoppers like Michael Hodge of Kenosha in on Friday.

First-time Black Friday shopper Hodge went online in advance to scout for specials. He found a $5 stuffed snow girl at Build-a-Bear for his 3-year-old sister.

He also found $10 T-shirts that he wanted to snag for himself. He went to the mall with his brother and girlfriend.

“We got here at 7 a.m. We decided to come after the big rush,” Hodge said. “I love the atmosphere here.”

Hodge was among “tens of thousands” of shoppers at Gurnee Mills Black Friday weekend, according to Mall Manager Randy Ebertowski. Up to 147 million will shop Black Friday weekend, according to National Retail Federation.

There were long lines of people waiting to get into the mall right at 4 a.m., Ebertowski said.

“It’s always a bit of a frenzy and excitement like opening that first Christmas gift. You’re thrilled what’s inside,” Ebertowski said.

He described the crowds as “well-behaved.” Parking lots at the Mills hold a maximum of 10,000 vehicles. The mall has never maxed out of parking spaces during Black Friday, he said.

Security and Gurnee Police helped with the flow of traffic on the lots and getting people on and off the mall property, he said.

Foot traffic through the mall tapered off between 7 and 10 a.m. but remained steady throughout the entire day. Black Friday kicked off the mall’s extended holiday hours. The mall was open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Black Friday. They are open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

“We have special deals and offers in place all weekend. It’s a long holiday weekend ... I would recommend keep looking on Gurnee Mills’ Web site for deals,” Ebertowski said.

Friday’s shopping crowd was better than last year’s at Off Broadway Shoes, according to Store Manager Manny Henriquez. Their weekend discount was 50 percent off 50 styles. They also gave away 50 envelopes with various discounts, including one pair of free shoes, to early morning shoppers.

“It was pretty busy. Once the doors were open, they started flooding in. We doubled our sales goal by 8 a.m.,” Henriquez said.

Gabriela Ramos of North Chicago was among the shoppers to hit the mall at 4 a.m.

“(I came) to find more discounts,” Ramos said.

She said she found the best deals at the Disney Store and at Gymboree Outlet.

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