Not the usual Black Friday sale

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Hundreds of shoppers show up at an I Love Saipan outlet in Garapan last Friday to take advantage of the huge discounts and sale on clothing. (Mark Rabago)

Saipan joined the Black Friday frenzy last Friday—a day after Thanksgiving—as has become a tradition all over the United States, with people snapping up sales deals to get a head start on their Christmas shopping.

This time, though, many shoppers on Saipan were focused not on luxury items but to replenish belongings that they lost during Super Typhoon Yutu.

According to Liberty Department Store manager Frances Yumul, they weren’t expecting many people to show up at the store last Friday.

“We know that half of the island was damaged, many homes were destroyed by the typhoon so I thought people don’t have the spirit to go out and buy because many lost their houses and jobs. Because of that, we weren’t really expecting many shoppers. It turns out that many people showed up,” she said.

Yumul said that most shoppers bought items that they needed for their homes. “I noticed that most of our customers come for the household items, bathroom items, baby items such as clothing and toys.”

Discounts at Liberty Department Store ranged from 15 percent to 55 percent.

“This year’s Black Friday Sale is totally different from last year; last year was better. But we know what everyone has been through and one thing we did was to keep the prices the same as last year’s. We don’t want to raise the prices post-typhoon and we gave further discounts,” she added

I Love Saipan was also taken aback by the turnout at their store. People started lining up at 8am, even though the store opens at 10am. “I wasn’t expecting a good turnout because many in the community lost their homes and we were not sure if they wanted to shop after Typhoon Yutu. We didn’t prepare by adding cashiers because I really thought that it will be just like an ordinary day,” said store manager Chirapan McGuire.

“This year is actually busy, as last year was kind of quiet…Lately, we got a lot of customers from employees of Best Sunshine. Today, we have people shopping for clothes,” she added.

Ayana Tengco from Garapan was one of the early shoppers at I Love Saipan. She needed to replenish her clothes. “I got clothes for school and for whenever I go out with family and friends. I was happy that they were really cheap and the quality is nice,” she said.

Payless Shoes store manager Mariaflor DeLeon Guerrero thought that shoes would be the last thing on people’s minds after Typhoon Yutu. “After the typhoon, we weren’t really expecting this much turnout because many people lost their houses and belongings. I expected them to spend more for their immediate needs like house, furniture etc., but…our Black Friday sale was quite successful,” she said.

“Last year’s sale was really successful as our store was totally packed. Now, customers come and go. We are feeling great, however, to help the community this way that’s why we are giving this kind of promotion to help them to be able to purchase items that they need,” she added.

Nenita Salvador of Chalan Kiya, who works as a cleaner, was eager to use the shoes she found. “I lost my work shoes during the typhoon and I am glad I found a pair that is comfortable and cheap. Our home has been damaged, so my family and I have been slowly repairing it,” she said.

“Buying new shoes was not a priority because I consider it a luxury at this time…but this makes me feel like going back to normal life and I am looking forward to wearing my new shoes,” she added.

Bea Cabrera
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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