BENNINGTON -- Local retailers reported decent sales on Black Friday, despite gloomy weather and a down economy.

"It was busy the first thing in the morning," said Sue Congdon, owner of Star Electric on Main Street. She said things slowed down after that, but it’s likely that people would return later in the afternoon after they had done their shopping elsewhere.

"People are going out of town first thing in the morning, or they are at Wal-Mart and Kmart," she said.

Congdon said that televisions sold quickly, something she had anticipated and planned her sales and ads around. She said that sales for LCD and plasma screen televisions had been slow in recent months, which meant to Congdon that people were holding off on purchasing them for Black Friday.

Behind television sales were refrigerators and digital cameras, she said.

Mark Beck, manager of the Sears on Northside Drive, said his store was doing extremely well, having met its sales goal by 1 p.m. He said that the store opened at 6 a.m. and that about 30 people had lined up outside.

"It was a pleasure," he said. "My anticipation was a little different."

Beck said that before he opened the doors, he asked the crowd of shoppers if they were looking for specific, limited items. Those that were got tickets that let them circumvent the line. Beck said the process made everything run smooth.

He said the items on sale near the front were off the shelves immediately. "After three years of running the store, I knew what I had to do to display it and get it out of the store," he said.

Beck said that much of his stock had been pre-sold and that many customers had done their research well before buying the items they were looking for. He said that appliances sold well, especially energy efficient washers and dryers, televisions, and refrigerators.

Even stores that don’t do much in the way of Black Friday business saw a pick-up in traffic. "It was a very busy afternoon," said Rick Havlak, owner of the Bennington Bookshop on Main Street. He said that sales were good from about 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., but the book store’s real selling day is the Saturday before Christmas.

Havlak said his store is following a national trend, with any book about vampires selling quickly to younger readers.

Valerie Nash, manager of the Label Shopper on Kocher Drive, said that this year her store wasn’t doing Black Friday promotions.

More business involved

She said she had noticed little difference in the number of shoppers coming through: Nash said Label Shopper’s prices tend to be quite low, which has had them doing brisk business for several months.

Keith Carey, owner of the Gamer’s Grotto, said his store is doing well, even if he thought it might be a little better. Carey said video game sales are up, and that board games are doing well, too. "For what we normally do on a Friday, we are extra busy," he said.

Carey said that he decided to offer discounts on video games and used DVDs, and the promotion seems to be working.

Contact Keith Whitcomb at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com.