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Black Friday fun at the Edwards Exchange

Shopping excitement is safe and fun at the Edwards Air Force Base Exchange this holiday season. Shoppers cheer as the store opens at 4 a.m. Nov 25th. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Stephen K. Robinson)

Shoppers cheer as the Edwards Air Force Base Exchange opens at 4 a.m. on Black Friday, Nov 25. More than 400 people poured into the store in search of holiday bargains. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Stephen K. Robinson)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- With more than 425 shoppers waiting in line at 4 a.m. on Black Friday, Nov. 25, Exchange employees stood at the ready to assist prospective buyers as the gate opened and people poured into the store.
 
The vast majority of shoppers seemed to know just what they wanted and where to find it.

Wendy Tarleton, an area retired servicemember, said, "I came into to purchase a laptop and a tablet. I found exactly what I was looking for, and the Exchange has made it easy to get in and get out. See, I'm in and out in less than 30 minutes. It is near the most pleasant shopping experience I've had this holiday season. How can one beat that?"

To help ensure that Friday's shopping be enjoyable and pleasant, Exchange associates came in at 1 a.m. to finalize preparations for the early opening.

"We actually started preparing the merchandise earlier in the week," said Russell Hinrichs, general manager of the Edwards Exchange.

"The key draws for this year's Black Friday were televisions, Sony's XBOX 360, along with other electronics items,  and Coach purses," Hinrichs said.

The store produced a 32-page ad, and most shoppers said it helped them make purchase decisions prior to Friday morning's visit.

"I knew exactly what I wanted. I came in last night at 8, stood in line to get my coupon for this very item (an Xbox) and I'm happy to finally be purchasing it," said Seth Platt, son of Col. Michael Platt, commander of Air Force Research Laboratory, Detachment 7. "I'll be putting it to good use immediately."

The number of Black Friday customers was nearly 200 more than last year, Hinrichs said. "I do consider Friday a success as I consider the entire weekend a success since we were 13 percent over last year in sales."

"I am really happy that the majority of the customers said they found what they were looking for. We know, even at Edwards, that our customers have many choices. I see this as an honor that our customers choose us; especially at 4 a.m. It's our job to keep them as a customer and continually earn their business," Hinrichs said.
 
"As with any store this season, we are finding that customers are surgically shopping: They know what they are looking for and they either come in and purchase or go to the next store. We do our best to meet our mission and vision -- to be our customer's first choice."

The promotions are done at the Exchange headquarters in Dallas. It selects the merchandise and quantities each store receives as well as the printing of the flyers. The local Exchange implements the strategies developed.

A technical sergeant who recently moved to Edwards, said, "My family and I went to a large nationwide chain retailer last night when they opened their doors. We were at the door nearly two hours before they opened. When the doors didn't open exactly at 10 the crowd got pushy with several of them falling in on top of my son in his stroller. That was a totally unpleasant experience in my book. While there is a crowd here, I don't see people mauling each other. A pleasant staff, a well-stocked store, competitive pricing and price matching, all make shopping here at the Exchange a big plus."
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