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Ryan Bakken, Forum News Service, Published November 29 2013

Canadian crew seeks Black Friday haul

GRAND FORKS – Part adventure, part business trip, part tradition.

That’s what Black Friday is about for six Winnipeg women and apparently many others who sacrifice sleep for bargains and the thrill of the hunt.

For the sixth consecutive year, Jen Mazur, Candace Johannson and four others in their group of “30-somethings” made the drive across the border. Their pickups hauled two much-needed U-Haul trail-ers.

“Every year, we have two to three meetings to plan the trip,” Mazur said. “We download apps, make phone calls and consume some bottles of wine while making our schedule.”

The schedule started with leaving Winnipeg at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, after work. When arriving at mid-afternoon, they headed straight to three retail behemoths in Grand Forks: Wal-Mart, Target and Co-lumbia Mall.

“I filled three carts by myself in Wal-Mart and they were all Christmas presents,” Mazur said.

Because they visited re-tailers that were offering specials on Thanksgiving Day evening, a growing trend in the Christmas shopping routine, they didn’t check into their motel until after midnight.

That didn’t mean they slept, however.

“Not a nap; not a wink,” Johannson said.

At 3:30 a.m., with the temperature at 11 degrees and accompanied by a breeze, the well-bundled six were the first people in a line that swelled to 250 for Gordmans’ 5 a.m. opening in Grand Forks.

Gordmans wasn’t open on Thanksgiving Day, as many national retailers were, but it attracted a crowd with an offer exclusive to its first 300 customers: 25 percent off all merchandise that could fit in a shopping bag. Even with 15 checkouts, the waiting line wound its way to the back wall.

The wait and the lack of sleep for more than 24 hours had Johannson draped over her shopping cart in the checkout line after two-plus hours in Gordmans.

Still ahead on the itiner-ary Friday was a trip to Fargo. The targets included Scheels and Toys R Us.

Canadians are definitely in the mix on Black Friday at West Acres Shopping Center, said Alissa Sorum, the mall’s marketing direc-tor. She said hotels near the shopping center fill up during the holiday week-end and some of that traffic is Canadians, who general-ly making up about 5 per-cent of the mall’s shopping population in a given year.

She added the amount Canadians spend while in the Fargo-Moorhead area is greater than their physical numbers might suggest.

“Often, those that travel the furthest have the big-gest economic impact,” Sorum said.

That’s certainly the case for the Winnipeg women. They will head home today, making at least one more stop to fill the remaining gaps in their U-Hauls.

“Saturday is always gro-cery shopping day,” Mazur said.