By Paul Struck, Editor
The cash registers were merrily ringing for many Cherokee merchants Thanksgiving Friday on what is called America's single busiest shopping day of the year.
Not only was this a good sign for merchants after a sluggish fall economy, but it also serves as a stark testimony to the wide array of quality goods, popular items, and dependable service the local businesses offer daily.
A noon canvassing of several Cherokee merchants revealed that business was brisk throughout the morning as a few major Cherokee retailers kick-started the day with early 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. openings, featuring knock-out sale prices on many popular items.
Other local businesses reported more of a quality versus quantity shopping, with some shoppers purchasing big-ticket items that tickled both merchants and their tills.
Several retailers pointed out that the sunny, dry weather may have enticed even more local shoppers to Sioux City. "We need some winter weather to keep them home supporting their local merchants," said Karl Beals of Golf etc. in downtown Cherokee. "It's too nice out." Beals said business at his store was so-so. "They come and go, but it could pick up this afternoon."
Cherokee KMart manager Sonia Anderson said their day began slowly at 6 a.m. and then steadily built until it became "organized chaos" by mid-morning and continued the rest of the morning well into the afternoon and evening.
"We also were open Thanksgiving Day and did a great business," said Anderson. "But today has been tremendous. We're doing big business and we surely need it after a slow start this fall. There are a lot of shoppers out and about."
Owner Tom Letsche of Letsche's Bike Shop & Radio Shack in downtown Cherokee also reported brisk business. "It's been a good day so far," said Letsche. "We've been busy, there's steady traffic and we're really busy right now. I have to go. There are customers waiting."
Manager Donna Leach of Judy's Hallmark in downtown Cherokee said business was steady and that, normally, it picks up in the afternoons after shoppers have been to the early-morning store openings and have had lunch.
Randy Langlitz of Bomgaars in Cherokee said their check-out lines have been full all morning and there has been a steady stream of traffic since the doors opened at 7 a.m. "In fact, it's been more than steady, we're really busy," said Langlitz, who had to excused himself to wait on customers.
Owner Randy Pritts of Wilson TV & Appliances in downtown Cherokee also reported lots of shoppers. "We've got people all over the place. We've been very busy since we opened this morning. It's wonderful and we're doing great business," offered Pritts.
A spokesperson with Fashionette in downtown Cherokee said business there was real steady since the store opened at its regular starting time of 9 a.m. "It's been great so far," said the spokesperson. "There are lots of shoppers out and about."
Just down the street, Darren Zwiefel of Darren's Clothing Company said he was too busy to talk and that customers were waiting. "It's not too bad, at all," said Zwiefel.
A spokesman at Carey's Furniture in downtown Cherokee said the store has been very busy with customers all morning. Next door at The Bookseller, owner Donna Henrich said, "Business is always good on this day each year. Most of our customers come later after their early starts at the stores that open way early."
Across the street at Champion Electric, Karen Christensen reported a steady flow of shoppers doing good business.
Next door at the Cherokee General Store, owner Sarah Cook said, "We've been nice and busy. And we're seeing a lot of former residents and holiday visitors making a social day out of their shopping experience here. It's wonderful and we've come to know a lot of them by seeing them once a year."
Betty Egger of Royer's Jewelry in downtown Cherokee said their Friday business was all about quality and not quantity of shoppers. "We haven't had any big rush of people, but we've made some big sales," said Egger. "I think our brochure (in Chronicle Times) really helped. I also think the weather is too nice and a lot of customers may have gone to Sioux City. But we're happy with the business we've done today."
Aaron DeVos, assistant manager at Hy-Vee Drug Store (formerly DrugTown), also reported brisk sales. "It's really been good," said DeVos. "We opened at 7 a.m. (normal store hours) and have been going steady since then. We're very happy with it."
Kelly Niemieier of Melander's in downtown Cherokee said they were "swamped" when contacted by the Chronicle Times. "I have to go," she said in a cheery voice. "Customers are waiting. Business has been great!"
Marilyn Samsel of Creative Services in downtown Cherokee predicted that, as usual on this day, they will get very busy in the afternoon, after the early-rising shoppers have been to the various stores opening early in the morning.
Last but certainly not least, Valley Gifts & More, and Valley Pharmacy on North Second Street were "packed all day," according to Marlys Anderson, who manages Gifts & More.
"We've been packed with a lot of out-of-towners and former residents who are back visiting family and friends for Thanksgiving. They're now doing their Christmas shopping and business is wonderful. There also has been a steady stream of traffic into the Pharmacy next door."
Also, for the hard to buy for, or for a novel Christmas gift idea each holiday season, shoppers can purchase Cherokee Bucks at the Chamber of Commerce office, which are same as cash at Cherokee merchants throughout the year.
Inexplicably, the Chamber office was closed Friday.