Back to their old traditions: Shoppers fill suburban malls on Black Friday

  • From left, Jared Lynn, 17, of Cary, Sammy Gold, 16, also of Cary, and Kaylee Grabowski, 16 of Knoxville, Tennessee, head to their next stop with their arms full on Black Friday at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.

      From left, Jared Lynn, 17, of Cary, Sammy Gold, 16, also of Cary, and Kaylee Grabowski, 16 of Knoxville, Tennessee, head to their next stop with their arms full on Black Friday at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Black Friday shoppers faced traffic jams both inside and outside Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.

      Black Friday shoppers faced traffic jams both inside and outside Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Michael Salazar and Anna Salazar of Mundelein have their hands full during Black Friday shopping at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.

      Michael Salazar and Anna Salazar of Mundelein have their hands full during Black Friday shopping at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Shoppers navigate the crowds during Black Friday at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.

      Shoppers navigate the crowds during Black Friday at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Black Friday shoppers packed Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg once again this year after two down years.

      Black Friday shoppers packed Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg once again this year after two down years. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • People wait to have their pictures taken with Santa Claus Friday morning at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora.

      People wait to have their pictures taken with Santa Claus Friday morning at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

  • A band from Karl Knutson Boutique Entertainment closed out their gig Friday morning at Fox Valley Mall with the decidedly un-Christmassy "Uptown Funk," followed by a jazzy instrumental version of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" after singer Knutson, of Lisle, left the stage. That's drummer Pete Mack of Chicago on the left, bassist Tom Lopatka of Elgin on the right, and keyboardist Tom Hartnett of Oswego behind Knutson.

      A band from Karl Knutson Boutique Entertainment closed out their gig Friday morning at Fox Valley Mall with the decidedly un-Christmassy "Uptown Funk," followed by a jazzy instrumental version of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" after singer Knutson, of Lisle, left the stage. That's drummer Pete Mack of Chicago on the left, bassist Tom Lopatka of Elgin on the right, and keyboardist Tom Hartnett of Oswego behind Knutson. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

  • The Furry Babies dog-selling business was festively decorated for Black Friday at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora.

      The Furry Babies dog-selling business was festively decorated for Black Friday at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/25/2022 6:44 PM

It felt like old times at suburban malls Friday as shoppers packed store aisles searching for deals and renewed Black Friday traditions largely forgotten or scaled down the past two holiday seasons.

"It's exciting to have people back at the mall," Heather Lloyd, director of marketing at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, said as hundreds of shoppers streamed by. "And people aren't coming just for the shopping; they are getting back to their old traditions."

 

Near the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall in Aurora, cars filled with shoppers were lined up for at least a quarter-mile Friday morning along Interstate 88 at the Farnsworth Avenue northbound exit. By 1 p.m., Aurora police closed the mall's entrance and announced it had reached capacity. Entrances were intermittently opened about an hour later.

Just seven miles away at the Fox Valley Mall, a group of five women from the western Illinois towns of Fulton and Albany as well as Clinton, Iowa, were shopping in matching bedazzled jackets with "Evie's Angels" emblazoned on the back.

"Evie's Angels" have been shopping together at the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora for about 30 years. The group is named after the late Evie Mussmann, who started the tradition. She died of breast cancer, so the women wear pink items in her memory. They are Bobbie Jensen, left, of Fulton; Carol Decker of Albany; Zoey Klavenga of Fulton; Charlene Klavenga of Fulton; and Sally Mussmann of Clinton, Iowa.
  "Evie's Angels" have been shopping together at the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora for about 30 years. The group is named after the late Evie Mussmann, who started the tradition. She died of breast cancer, so the women wear pink items in her memory. They are Bobbie Jensen, left, of Fulton; Carol Decker of Albany; Zoey Klavenga of Fulton; Charlene Klavenga of Fulton; and Sally Mussmann of Clinton, Iowa. - Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

For more than 30 years the group has been gathering at the mall on Black Friday in a tradition started by Sally Mussmann's late mother, Evie.

"Every year we add something to our outfits (in Evie's honor)," Mussmann said. This year, it was pink felt Disney-themed stocking caps.

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They depart at 6 a.m. and return home around midnight, having shopped at Fox Valley and nearby strip malls before wrapping up the day with dinner.

On the mall's upper level near Macy's, Nick Lucente and Brianna Bruno took a break after their first round of shopping for their children.

"We just saw these chairs," Bruno said, as the two relaxed in vibrating massage chairs.

Why deal with the Black Friday crowds?

Nick Lucente and Brianna Bruno of Aurora took a break on vibrating massage chairs late Friday morning at Fox Valley Mall. They had done one round of shopping, put the packages in their car and came back in for more.
  Nick Lucente and Brianna Bruno of Aurora took a break on vibrating massage chairs late Friday morning at Fox Valley Mall. They had done one round of shopping, put the packages in their car and came back in for more. - Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

"We just want to make sure our kids get everything," Lucente said, adding that they also were shopping for their 2-year-old son's birthday, which is Sunday.

Waiting in line to get into the Lululemon store at Woodfield, Erika Brit of Burbank said she has shopped on Black Friday for the last 10 years or so.

"It feels good to start the holiday season," Brito said. "And a good way to spend time with my daughter."

While many industry experts predicted the crowds this year would be larger than 2021's -- such as the National Retail Federation's forecast of a 5% increase from last Thanksgiving weekend -- record inflation has many wondering how much people would spend.

J. Scott Samson, senior general manager of Fox Valley Mall, said that despite the uncertainty, Black Friday was looking like the mall's biggest day of the year.

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