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Black Friday looms

Crowds are gathering, holiday plans have to be rescheduled and substantial amounts of money are being moved. It is not a disaster, though; it is only Black Friday.

Another Black Friday retail event is coming to Southeast Texas, and for many stores that either means an early start on Friday or a later start on Thanksgiving Day.

“We’re doing what we’re doing every year — we’re getting ready for our customers,” Jennifer Veitch, store manager for Academy in Port Arthur, said.

“We open at 5 a.m. and we’ll be outside waiting and ready to start at 4 a.m. We have a lot of fun.”

A seeming rarity in retail outlets, Veitch and her team stand outside the doors of the store and mingle with the customers waiting for early Black Friday deals.

“We do the same thing every year — we go out and interact with our customers,” Veitch said. “We start at 4 a.m. and we talk with every single customer. We’ve learned that being out there with each other is the greatest thing to do this time of year.”

Veitch said, “We’re not one of those retailers who lock our doors on our customers. We stand out there with them.”

The unseasonable autumn heat as of late did not seem to deter Veitch, who recalled cooler times.

“In years past, when the weather was actually cold, we had hot chocolate and coffee with (the customers),” Veitch said. “We even had patio heaters.”

The usual demands placed on retail stores and its employees this time of year did not appear to be lost on the Academy store manager.

“Our biggest hurdle is that Black Friday seems to be getting earlier and earlier every year,” Veitch said. “Luckily, this year, some retailers actually decided to close this Thanksgiving. Academy doesn’t open on Thanksgiving.”

Veitch made special mention of her and her team’s commitment to their consumer base.

“Our biggest reward is knowing our customers are happy. We get so many compliments from customers that (the event) was so calm and so organized.”

Veitch highlighted the importance of customer service, as well as the virtue of having items in stock that are advertised for that day.

“That’s part of being with your customers — talking with them and being out there with them,” Veitch said.

And in order to avoid instances of mass mob hysteria that have gained notoriety in the news, Veitch said, “We tell them where everything is located …

“The things we have in our ads, we have lots in stock.”