Adrienne Brunette used two separate techniques to fortify herself in preparation for Black Friday crowds on Michigan Avenue.
“I came mentally prepared to wait in line. And I put Baileys in my coffee,” Brunette said while roaming the American Girl doll store at Water Tower Place mall with her daughter Vera, 9, who was excited to buy a new ski outfit for her doll.
But like thousands of other shoppers who hit the Mag Mile Friday morning, she was pleasantly surprised to find thin crowds and a relaxed vibe.
“Quiet is fine for us,” said Brunette, of Traverse City, Michigan.
Heather Barnes, 26, of St. Paul, Minnesota, who has 32 American Girl dolls in her collection, arrived at the mall with her family before it opened.
“We thought there’d be people lined up to get in, but we got there 10 minutes before doors opened, and we were third in line,” she said.
“It’s kind of weird,” said Rob Rhinehart, 55, of Indianapolis, who was in town with his wife, Theresa, and their two daughters.
“It’s probably because so many people are shopping online,” said his daughter Payton, 17.
The family said they appreciated the police presence on Michigan Avenue.
“It feels safe,” said Theresa.
Other shoppers enjoyed the lighthearted vibe this year that seemed devoid of pandemic-related anxiety.
Few shoppers wore face coverings.
The first line of the day started to form around 10:30 a.m. outside the Lego store.
Oana Truica waited patiently with her daughter, Nora, 3, who circled her legs, occasionally stopping to bury her face in a large stuffed toy hanging from her mother’s arms.
“I’m not seeing the deals I hoped for,” said Truica, 32, of Uptown, who had just left the Sephora store.
But she remained hopeful and planned to carry on in her quest for Black Friday discounts.