By BROOKE WANSER
At 6 a.m. on Friday morning, the crowd at the CoolSprings Galleria mall looked much like it would on any other busy day during the holiday season.
‘Silver Bells’ played over the sound system, and giant holiday decorations hung from the ceiling.
Except it was Black Friday, and doors had just opened to shoppers, some of whom had waited in line since 4:30 a.m., said the mall’s Marketing Manager Kristina Francese.
Francese said the first 250 people in line at the Cheesecake Factory entrance received a $10 gift card to any of the mall’s retailers, and the first 100 also received a Vera Bradley reusable bag.
Until 3 p.m., the mall will have special giveaways, announced by a DJ, which include items like an American Girl doll, Build-A-Bear, a Pandora Jewelry set, and food court gift cards.
“This year, we ramped it up a lot,” Francese said of the marketing for Black Friday. “We wanted to engage everyone, and we wanted to get the hype up.”
Though he declined an official interview, a security guard said it was slow at the mall that morning, much slower than another location he had been at before.
“There’s a lot of people here in the morning, but it definitely increases throughout the day,” Francese said.
A large portion of the mall’s holiday shoppers were teenage girls, who flocked into stores like Victoria’s Secret and Victoria’s Secret Pink, Sephora, and Pacsun.
Many middle-aged women also shopped, filling stores like Pandora Jewelry, Bath and Body Works and J.C. Penney.
Some groups even wore customized shirts; one group came from Lebanon, Tennessee, and another trio, from various towns around Gallatin.
Ayesha Rochester and her mother, Mary Asherbranner, said they had been coming to the CoolSprings Galleria mall for Black Friday since Rochester’s daughter, Jessica Holder, 22, was a baby.
This year, they donned custom-made t-shirts bearing each woman’s initials on the front. The back read, “I’m only a morning person on Black Friday.”
Just before 7 a.m., the three women had already shopped and put their purchases inside their truck. They sat inside the food court, eating breakfast from Chick-Fil-A.
Though Rochester said they sometimes shopped on Black Friday at the Murfreesboro mall, “We wanted to be inside this year,” she said.
At 7 a.m. inside Walmart, only a few shoppers pushed carts, some with toys and others with large-screen televisions. Signs handwritten in Sharpie markers adorned piles of bed frames, tool boxes, and electronics, alerting customers that these items were the last in stock.
Though a store manager from Walmart declined be interviewed for this story, he said things were “hectic and busy” last night when the store opened at 6 p.m.