LA CROSSE, Wis. - (WXOW) - Black Friday looked a bit different this year but that didn't stop a steady stream of shoppers from finding those deals and supporting retail at Valley View Mall.
The first store open in the mall was J.C. Penney at 5 a.m. The mall itself and the rest of the stores opened at 8 a.m. Friday morning which is not as early as it has in years past.
Jeff Odom, Valley View Mall general manager said there was a rush right when the doors opened and then it leveled off, but then began building each hour as the day progressed.
With safety being the biggest worries surrounding this holiday, Odom says they took extra precautions before Black Friday even started.
"In the weeks prior to Black Friday we increased our housekeeping staff, the number of hours we have staff here cleaning. Just trying to do everything that we can to make sure we are wiping down entry ways and door handles, all the touch points throughout the mall," said Odom.
They also have reduced food court seating that has been in place since the summer.
All shoppers were masked and almost all stores had sanitizing stations outside the store for them to use before they entered along with an employee regulating the number of customers in at one time.
For the retailers, it's more than just a busy day.
"It's important for them really for survival. As we have gone through this year, some national retailers have closed. Many of them are hanging in there and just fighting to survive. So this November, December holiday rush is going to be important as they move into the first quarter of 2021," said Odom.
PopCon has been in Valley View Mall for 13 years. TumStrum's Treats Emporium has only been open since August but for both, Black Friday is an important day.
"It's really big for us as a small business. Just with how everything has been this year obviously things have been a little bit slower, so having Black Friday is still a pretty important shopping day for everybody," said Elizabeth Wilson, manager of PopCon and TumStrums. "It's a big day for sales so it has been important to help us through the rest of the year."
While the holidays will all look different this year, people are still taking advantage of them in ways they can while staying safe.
"We can see today that people are willing to come out, practice the safe protocols," said Odom. "Stores are taking everything into account. They are limiting the number of shoppers in the stores as well to do everything they can to remain open but do it in a safe way."