Shoppers eying a jump on Christmas to take advantage of Black Friday sales can expect to be jamming stores tonight.
Many got an early start at popular shopping venues such as the Lycoming Mall, and the Susquehanna Valley Mall which open their doors at midnight.
Midnight openings for Black Friday are nothing new for some stores, but it marks a first for the local malls, according to Sharon Leonard, marketing manager for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which operates both malls.
He may be sleeping by then, but this Santa’s local home at the Lycoming Mall will open at midnight tonight for Black Friday shoppers. Santa receives a visit from Adrianna Bame, 4, and her brother Kale, 8 months. They are the children of Curiel Bame, of Hughesville.
"Normally, our openings are 5 a.m. on Black Friday," she said.
Not every store at the two malls opened at midnight.
At any rate, Leonard said she is anticipating a robust holiday shopping season, including today.
"Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days," she said.
She noted that there will be plenty of bargains and other special offers at stores for shoppers to consider.
A midnight opening also ushered in the holiday season at the Williamsport Kohl's downtown store.
Kohl's has helped changed the ever-evolving landscape of the city's downtown.
But the malls can be expected to be where most shoppers will be tonight.
"It's not a real big day for the downtown," said Williamsport Business Association President Bernie Katz. "We get a little bit of extra shoppers in the afternoon after people are done with the box stores. Then they come downtown."
Many people who have moved away but come home for the Thanksgiving holiday find their way downtown during the weekend, he said.
It's in the downtown where they find many types of stores they might not find elsewhere.
"They can shop the big box stores anywhere," Katz said. "They might not find places like Le Chocolat or Otto's back home. They might not have been downtown in years."
Throughout the holiday season, downtown businesses will give out free parking tokens shoppers can use for street meters.
"We are all looking forward to a really, really good holiday season," Katz said.