BUFFALO, N.Y. - The days of a mad rush on Black Friday may be over.
But it's still, by all accounts, an unofficial shopping holiday.
The city of Buffalo eliminated fees from metered parking in honor of Black Friday, hoping to lure shoppers to the Elmwood Village and other shopping districts. And, as they do every year, the outlet stores and mall retailers in Western New York marked down prices by as much as 70 percent in an attempt to draw a Black Friday crowd.
Ruth Patenaude, a native of suburban Toronto, crosses the border every year with her husband during Thanksgiving weekend. This year, she found herself at the Boulevard Mall on Black Friday.
"I noticed this year, there's not that many shoppers," Patenaude said. "We've been here before and there's lineups galore. And now, it's barely a lineup. We can find a parking spot!"
Brian Calvert, the general manager of Boulevard Mall, said Black Friday has certainly changed.
But it's not obsolete.
"I think it's the same number of people, but it's spread out a little more over the years, with some stores being open on Thanksgiving, " Calvert said. "I think there's still just as many people shopping for the holidays and they're happy to do it. They just take different avenues, whether it's online, brick-and-mortar, or waiting for better sales later in the year."
Boulevard Mall still had significant foot traffic on Black Friday, just as the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls had on Thanksgiving evening.
In the Elmwood Village, the atmosphere at local stores like TreeHouse on Elmwood Avenue is a total contrast to the stereotypical Black Friday craziness. TreeHouse, a kid's toy store, typically draws a more family-oriented crowd. Many of the shoppers are visiting with family in Western New York for Thanksgiving and aren't necessarily desperate to buy gifts.
"Generally, it's a really positive, 'let's go check out the toy store' kind of attitude. It's pretty stress-free, I would say," owner Gaetana Schueckler said. "That's what we strive for. We want people to sort of take a breath when they come in and be in a different world -- a kid's world."