Ottawa Citizen

Bargain hunters brave long lines

Both store own­ers and buy­ers have strate­gies for mak­ing the best of the big­gest shop­ping day of the year, writes SHAAMINI YOGARETNAM.

- WITH FILES FROM THE CANA­DIAN PRESS syo­g­a­ret­nam@ot­tawc­i­t­i­zen.com Twit­ter.com/shaamini­why Retail · Shopping · Consumer Goods · Industries · Bank of Montreal · Montreal · Bank of Montreal · McLaren Automotive · United States of America · Toshiba · Best Buy Company · LULULEMON ATHLETICA, INC. · Ottawa · Black Friday & Cyber Monday · Futureshop.ca

Ot­tawans joined mil­lions of other Cana­di­ans ex­pected to brave malls and big-box stores for Box­ing Day sales on Wed­nes­day, some hav­ing scouted deals be­fore­hand but many look­ing to spend Christ­mas gift cards.

A sur­vey con­ducted by the Bank of Mon­treal found nearly twothirds of Cana­di­ans planned to shop on the big­gest shop­ping day.

Nearly 400 peo­ple were lined up out­side the Fu­ture Shop on Merivale Road in ad­vance of the store’s 6 a.m. open­ing. Early-ris­ing em­ploy­ees in­side the tech­nol­ogy and elec­tron­ics store be­gan work be­fore 4 a.m.

Damian McLaren, the store’s gen­eral man­ager, said Box­ing Day dis­counts were still im­por­tant to the re­tail in­dus­try even with the rush to adopt Novem­ber’s Black Fri­day as a shop­ping in­sti­tu­tion this side of the U.S. bor­der.

“At the tail end of Novem­ber we saw a mas­sive spike (in sales), which is great, but it’s not tak­ing away from to­day. It’s ab­so­lutely the busiest day of the year,” he said while toss­ing his keys to an em­ployee who man­aged to get his at­ten­tion. More than 80 staff were sched­uled to work through­out the day. On a typ­i­cal Wed­nes­day, maybe 15 em­ploy­ees would work.

Since most stores are closed on Christ­mas Day, that means re­tail­ers of­fer­ing door-crash­ing deals need to prep on Christ­mas Eve to make sure things run as smoothly as they can on Box­ing Day.

Cus­tomers armed with gift cards come in look­ing to take ad­van­tage of the sale and have the money go far­ther than it would if they waited un­til the new year to spend, McLaren said.

Em­ploy­ees wore their sig­na­ture black hood­ies to keep warm as the mo­tion-op­er­ated slid­ing doors stayed open to ac­com­mo­date a con­stant flow of cus­tomers.

Cus­tomers en­ter­ing the store ei­ther picked up fly­ers to browse the deals or headed straight to a pre-scouted de­part­ment for a spe­cific deal. David Birch sur­veyed the Fu­ture Shop web­site look­ing for a par­tic­u­lar tele­vi­sion.

He bought that 55-inch Toshiba on Wed­nes­day morn­ing for $400 less than its orig­i­nal price af­ter show­ing up at the store at 6:30 a.m. “I got really lucky and there was a bunch left,” Birch said. “I didn’t have to come three hours early, I’m happy about that.”

Oth­ers, like Paul Landry, balanced stacks of video games and DVDs as they browsed aisle by aisle.

Landry couldn’t sleep so he opted to get up early and spend a Christ­mas gift card on movies and video game con­trollers.

Right next to Fu­ture Shop on Merivale Road is Best Buy, owned by the same par­ent com­pany, where em­ploy­ees of­fer sim­i­lar dis­counts and sim­i­lar prod­ucts but don’t get com­mis­sion.

Stand­ing in front of the store with a boxed TV, a woman is stunned when a cab driver pulls up to ask how much she paid for it.

“$599, but I think we got the last one,” she shouted back.

At the Rideau Cen­tre, the in­creased cash flow that only comes af­ter Christ­mas Day was the driv­ing shop­ping force for many.

The line to get in­side Lu­l­ule­mon spanned three times the length of the front of the store.

Kait­lyn Hoey joined the line, mark­ing its tem­po­rary end, with nearly 100 peo­ple in front of her.

A Christ­mas gift card meant she was on the hunt for leg­gings, but she hoped it would be a quick er­rand.

“Last year it took a really long time,” Hoey said.

Win­dow dis­plays through­out the mall ad­ver­tised sales for 30, 40 and 50 per cent off items. Added staff and se­cu­rity greeted cus­tomers at ev­ery store en­trance.

Many stores ad­ver­tised week­long sales that ex­tended past Dec. 26.

That’s Corey Hack­ett’s plan, too. Co-owner of Top of the World, a non-chain store unique to Ot­tawa just a block away from the Rideau Cen­tre, Hack­ett will of­fer deals all week.

Box­ing Day isn’t a big-box or chain men­tal­ity, he said. Sales are just ex­pected.

“Ev­ery­body does it,” Hack­ett said. “We al­ways have, we al­ways will.”

At Top of the World, which will cel­e­brate its 20th year in busi­ness in 2013, all shoes were half off.

“It’s our No. 1 prod­uct group­ing that we sell, and to of­fer them half­price is a rar­ity and we only do it once a year,” Hack­ett said. “It’s what drives peo­ple to come in here to­day.”

The at­mos­phere at the skate­board, snow­board and youth cul­ture cloth­ing store is a de­par­ture from larger stores, but own­ers still had to hire se­cu­rity for the day and man­age the num­ber of peo­ple in the store at any one time.

“Peo­ple like coming here be­cause they get what they want and they can have a good time and hang out if they want,” Hack­ett said. “It’s a pretty mel­low spot, ex­cept for to­day.” WATCH a video report of this story on­line at

 ?? WAYNE CUDDINGTON/OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN ?? Wei Mi and his son Simon, left, found them­selves a bargain on a new big-screen tele­vi­sion on Box­ing Day at Best Buy on Merivale Road.
WAYNE CUDDINGTON/OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN Wei Mi and his son Simon, left, found them­selves a bargain on a new big-screen tele­vi­sion on Box­ing Day at Best Buy on Merivale Road.
 ?? WAYNE CUDDINGTON/OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN ?? Natasha Fournier was at work at mid­night get­ting the store ready for shop­pers who were in search of Box­ing Day bar­gains at Best Buy on Merivale Road.
WAYNE CUDDINGTON/OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN Natasha Fournier was at work at mid­night get­ting the store ready for shop­pers who were in search of Box­ing Day bar­gains at Best Buy on Merivale Road.

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