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McHenry County residents take on Black Friday shopping

'I need a cup of coffee,' 1 Cary resident said

CRYSTAL LAKE – Armando Duenas and his three sons, Luke, Jack and Mark, set up camp at 2 a.m. Friday outside Best Buy’s Crystal Lake location. The family was on the hunt for the best deals on an Xbox and new television.

“They fell asleep on the ground,” Cindy Duenas, Armando’s wife, said Friday afternoon.

Armando was napping, she said. But the four Wonder Lake residents found everything they wanted.

McHenry County residents snarled traffic Friday, as they, too, searched for the best deals on Black Friday. About 70 percent of Americans plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. That weekend includes Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and Sunday.

Kim Gilmore, president of GMCI Creative and spokesperson for the Algonquin Commons, said the outdoor mall was prepared for the influx of shoppers Friday.

Gilmore said security has a noticeable presence so customers feel safe.

“There always are [large amounts of security] for Black Friday because we have big crowds,” Gilmore said. “The lights never turn off.”

Algonquin police also could be seen patrolling the Commons’ parking lot Friday morning.

Three Huntley High School students were taking advantage of that extra security and early morning shopping Friday at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Algonquin.

Huntley resident Jessi Groth had been out since 5:45 a.m., trying to find gifts for family members. Groth said she was not looking for anything in particular.

“[I’m] just looking around,” Groth said. “I never really have anything in mind when I go out shopping for gifts. I just wait to see if something catches my eye.”

Groth said she also likes people watching on Black Friday. Her friends Natalie Gaszynski, of Lake in the Hills, and Julia Johnson, of Huntley, also were shopping for loved ones.

Johnson said she was having trouble finding a gift for her boyfriend. Gaszynski mentioned her trip to Target on Thursday night was much more hectic than the crowds she saw Friday morning. The three were on to Ulta next.

Back at Best Buy in Crystal Lake, June McHugh was fading fast.

“I need a cup of coffee,” McHugh, of Cary, said.

McHugh had started shopping around 6:30 a.m. at Target and Kohl’s. She said she typically does not enjoy the crowds, but they did not seem too bad this year.

Aaron Eddy, of Wonder Lake, said he was planning on hitting up the “main” stores, like Walmart, Meijer and Menards to find deals.

“Our kids are getting older, so we don’t really need any more toys,” Eddy said. “Just seeing what’s out there.”

Algonquin Commons required all its stores to open their doors by 6 a.m. Friday, but some opened earlier, Gilmore said. The outdoor mall also featured the Santa Express trolley to shuttle shoppers from store to store from 1 to 4 p.m., according to a news release from GMCI Creative.

An estimated 99 million people contributed to foot traffic Black Friday sales in 2016, according to the Better Business Bureau. But Black Friday 2016 also set a record in single-day online sales. BBB warns that as online sales rapidly increase, so do online scams.

“That’s why it’s so important to do your homework ahead of time and remember that oftentimes, these same ‘limited time offers’ are available throughout the year,” Steve Bernas, president and CEO of BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, said. “Here’s a rule of thumb: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

As Black Friday comes and goes, it’s onto Cyber Monday. BBB wants consumers to read the fine print, watch for fake apps, be wary of phishing scams, know the advertiser, ask for gift receipts and save warranty information, shop with a credit card, learn about advertising gimmicks and make sure websites are secure. Visit BBB.org for more information.

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