BENSON — Customers took advantage of Black Friday specials in Benson, with Walmart and Ace Hardware reporting great holiday shopping crowds.
Flat screen TVs and air fryers were big draws at Walmart, store manager Scott Olson said Friday morning.
“I don’t have the numbers yet, but we’re seeing more in-store shoppers this year than last year,” he added. “We ran a special on our flat screen TVs, and people took advantage of the savings. Air fryers were another hot item, as well as Apple Watches and miscellaneous technology devices.”
Parents, many with young children in tow, could be seen loading shopping carts with clothing, video games and a variety of toys on Friday.
Juan and Fabiola Rodriguez were in Walmart with their two young sons, Alen, 8, and Andre, 3. Both children were riding in a loaded shopping cart amid pillows, clothing and toys.
Pearce resident Jacob Eglinsdoerfer purchased a VIZIO 70-inch flat screen television as a family gift.
“It’s a great deal,” he said. “Walmart is selling this particular model for $498 instead of around $800, so by waiting for this Black Friday sale, I saved a lot of money.”
For Ace Hardware, it was Christmas decorations, yard equipment, home repair products and tools that topped customers’ lists.
“We had a great weekend,” Audrey Frederick, assistant manager of Benson Ace Hardware, said of the store’s crowd.
“We sold a lot of decorations, yard equipment and home repair products like paint and lumber. We had great customer response to the coupons we ran.”
Amid the Black Friday holiday shoppers, Salvation Army kicked off its red kettle campaign Friday, with bell ringers in front of retail stores wishing customers a Merry Christmas and thanking them for donations.
Long-time Salvation Army bell ringer Nick Weaver was in front of Walmart while his wife, Doris, was standing in front of Ace Hardware on Friday.
“My wife and I support the good things the Salvation Army does for local communities, and we ring throughout the holiday season,” Weaver said. “We work out of the Assembly of God Church in Benson. All the money we raise through bell ringing stays right in the community and goes toward helping people in need.”
The Salvation Army red kettle campaign is the oldest charitable fundraiser of its kind in the United States, said Boston Donner, a Benson resident who — with the exception of three days — rings every day the Salvation Army has bell ringers through December.
“Every year, we start ringing the day after Thanksgiving, with Christmas Eve as the last day that we ring. And we don’t ring on Sundays,” she said. “I enjoy doing this because of the good things the Salvation Army does for the community’s poor. I play Christian music by (Christian rock band) Third Day while I’m out here ringing, and people love it.”
The Salvation Army in Benson uses the money it raises to assist people in crisis situations by helping with utilities, rent and some medical expenses.
“The organization is well known for its charitable work,” Donner said. “The red kettles and bell ringers are a holiday tradition. Participating in the red kettle campaign is a wonderful way to help a great charitable organization.”
Elijah Rundhaug, 5 agrees, as he drops change into the red kettle where Weaver is stationed.
“I’m giving this money to help people,” he said.
Kim Sorensen recruits and schedules the bell ringers at Walmart, Ace Hardware and Safeway in Benson.
Bell ringers work in two-hour shifts that run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., she said.
“We could always use more ringers,” Sorensen said. “Fortunately, I’ve been doing the scheduling for many years, which has allowed me to build up a repertoire of volunteers.
“But people come and go for different reasons, so we’re always glad when more bell ringers volunteer.”
Those interested in volunteering can call 520-586-2417 and leave a message.