Shoppers calmly go about their business on Black Friday


From the looks of the streets and parking lots in Carmel Valley on Black Friday, it appeared most people were still sleeping off their turkey and sweet potato hangovers.

The day after Thanksgiving is known for the shopping frenzy it can ignite, but there wasn’t much of a frenzy in Carmel Valley.

The area is home to few national chains and there’s not a Target, Walmart or department store in sight.

No, the biggest run here appeared to be on coffee and family breakfasts and the biggest traffic jam of the day was not shopping related at all. El Camino Real and Via de la Valle were clogged with cars heading into and out of the Surf Cup’s college soccer tournament at the polo fields.

Going online

Before Barnes & Noble opened at 9 a.m., Carmel Valley resident Kathleen Rotto was peering into the window, sipping a cup of coffee. But Rotto wasn’t a Black Friday shopper - she was just waiting for Village Mill Bread Company to open up to get some cinnamon swirl bread.

Rotto said she didn’t have plans to go out shopping that day - she does the bulk of her shopping online.

“It’s no mess,” she said of shopping online. “You don’t have to deal with parking, people and craziness.”

Rotto says she thinks ahead by signing up early on her favorite sites to receive coupons via e-mail that she can use for gifts.

Rotto said with the down economy she thinks people will still shop but just not to the excess of Christmases past.

Discount hunting

At Bath & Body Works in Del Mar Highlands, several shoppers were early risers, exiting out with big bags of smell goods. The store was offering a deal. For every $40 spent, shoppers would receive a VIP bag full of hot sellers, a $100 value, for $15.

Patty Moinzadeh of Rancho Santa Fe arrived early to Bath & Body Works.

“I just wanted to get out and see all the deep discounts,” Moinzadeh said, noting this particular location of Bath & Body Works is ideal because it’s not in a mall.

Moinzadeh said she was headed next to Costco and planned to shop online a lot this season to take advantage of some dollar-saving deals.

Taking a family day

At the Coffee Bean at Carmel Country Highlands, Suzanne Van Cleve sat with the paper and a cup of coffee. When asked if she’d be heading out for some shopping later, she replied “Absolutely not.”

“I won’t deal with the crowds,” Van Cleve said. “I shop online.”

She said for the last few years, she has visited her favorite retailers’ Web sites for gifts and the system works.

Instead of shopping on Friday, Van Cleve planned to take the family to the USS Midway.

Doing family activities was apparently on a lot of people’s lists. Another woman at the coffee shop, who is Jewish and doesn’t feel the Christmas shopping crunch, was going to the new Children’s Museum with her family.

At the mall

Meanwhile, Westfield UTC’s crowd seemed hooked on coffee. It was hard to find a shopper without some sort of coffee cup in hand. Some worked a delicate balance between the cup and their shopping bags; others just carried the cup.

While some registers in Macy’s had lines several people deep, some aisles were blocked only by dads pushing strollers while moms poked through stacks of sale sweaters, shoes and jewelry.

One woman with a single bag in hand said she was done after about an hour of shopping that netted her a couple of pairs of jeans for herself - but no gifts.

Nordstrom was quiet as a church mouse, with its upper level parking deck nearly empty at 8:30 a.m. Walkways inside the mall resembled any other day, with many window-shoppers.

Some though, like Corry-Lynn (who didn’t want to give her last name) of La Jolla’s Bird Rock arrived at the mall with her mom at about 7:30 a.m. and had several bags in hand.

She said she wasn’t surprised at the sparse crowd.

“I expect most of them were at the electronics stores.”