Rise and grind: Covid-era Black Friday hits Dartmouth

Nov 27, 2020

Even with Covid cases at an all time high, that still wasn’t enough to stop people in the area from looking for Black Friday deals. Although it was a smaller turnout than previous years, many South Coast shoppers still went old-school and lined up for doorbusters amidst the pandemic.

At the GameStop at Dartmouth Towne Center, dozens waited long hours in hopes to snag either of the two Sony PlayStation 5 systems and five Xbox Series X consoles that were available.

The first person in line, New Bedford resident John Santiago, said that he and his son were camping out since Wednesday night to secure the remaining PS5s.

“We had our Thanksgiving turkey out here,” he laughed, adding that family members stopped by the Gamestop to drop off food and blankets to keep their spots. 

Santiago added that while there were some concerns about Covid, he “felt pretty safe” waiting outside with his son, noting that people made sure to keep their social distance and constantly wear masks.

“We’re just really looking forward to trying the new console,” he said.

For most eager buyers, the search for the latest gaming system will have to continue. Just minutes after the store opened, the remaining next gen consoles were sold out.

“My app said there were eight Xboxes in this location,” said Fall River resident Anthony Baez. “A lot of people got finessed.”

New Bedford resident Brice Pires, 16, said that while it was disappointing not to come away with a playstation, he figured it would be a 50/50 chance.

“I don’t think some people knew how much of a limited amount there was,” he said “I’m not really that sad that I couldn’t get the PS5 — I’ll just try to get one another day.”

Black Friday was not limited to GameStop. Early morning lines were also seen at Target and Best Buy.

Dartmouth resident Nick Raol said while there were nearly 90 shoppers waiting outside Target before opening, they are not the numbers he is used to.

“It’s finally warm on Black Friday, and barely anyone’s here,” Raol said. “I’m used to seeing around 500 people waiting in line — right now, no one’s there.” 

The day of deals also saw a slow start at the Dartmouth Mall. Earlier in the month, property owner Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

According to the statement, the losses resulted primarily from store and mall closings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Total occupancy at PREIT malls was 93.2%, down 1.2% compared to this time last year.

While the morning was slow, by the afternoon, the mall was packed with shoppers.

“I got here at 11 and it’s only gotten busier,” Shoe Dept. Encore employee Ashleigh Melendez said. “We’re only allowed 45 people in at a time, and I’ve already counted that capacity quite a few times.”