Lawrence’s own “Black Friday”-like sale will be underway Thursday when hordes of shoppers will peruse Massachusetts Street for the best buys of the year.
The shopping spree will begin as early as 5 a.m. for some stores like The Buckle Inc., which even recruited sales associates from Overland Park stores to come to Lawrence for the day to help out. Others will open a little later, but still much earlier than usual. After 33 years of participating in the sidewalk sale, The Etc. Shop owner Linda Lester says she will open at 7 a.m., in contrast to some of her early-rising competitors.
"Honey, I'm too old for that," Lester said.
Even though it is a "sidewalk sale," Thuy Soldner of Kieu's said that to find her deals shoppers must come inside.
"Our side of the street is sunny after 10 a.m.," Soldner said. "It can get unbearably hot, so we stay in the air conditioning."
To keep customers cool, water and cooling stations will be available on each block of Massachusetts Street.
More than 50 shops and area organizations are participating in the 54th annual downtown sidewalk sale, and many stores are offering big savings. Jock’s Nitch Hawk Zone, for example, is offering 25 percent off all stock, including already marked-down sale items, which general manager Ryan Owens said was a first for the store.
"Some T-shirts are $5, so with 25 percent off of that, you can get it pretty cheap," Owens said.
And even though the 23rd Street Jock's Nitch is farther from the action, Owens says that location will also participate with a sale tent in its parking lot.
For some discounts, you have to arrive early not just to beat fellow shoppers to the deals, but also to take advantage of timed sales. From 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. only, Urban Outfitters is giving 50 percent off already discounted sale items, and store merchandiser Elyse Loncaric said those early shoppers can score big bargains.
"Our most expensive sale item is $29.99, so you are looking at $15 maximum in the morning," Loncaric said.
Still, Urban Outfitters also plans to make a profit.
"Last year we made $70,000," Loncaric said. "This year our district manager is hoping for $80,000."
For women's boutiques, the sidewalk sale offers a great way to clear out summer dresses and skirts. Britches is offering $15.99 maxi skirts, and shoppers can find dresses discounted up to 90 percent off at Saffee's. Haven't gotten a swimming suit yet? Envy will be selling them for $5.
To complete shoppers' new outfits, many stores are marking down jewelry. Prairie Pond Studio & Bead Co., for example, is offering discounts of up to 70 percent off accessories, and those who like for.tu.ity on Facebook will receive a free piece of jewelry with a purchase.
Many great buys on men's clothing and shoes will be available as well. Find Adidas clothing discounts starting at 40 percent off at Francis Sporting Goods or half-off Northface jackets at Sunflower Outdoor & Bike.
Both men and women can find shoes galore at various downtown stores, including at Brown's Shoe Fit Co., with various styles and clearance sales outside the store. Shark's Surf Shop will also be selling discounted footwear with Sperry Top-Siders and adult Tom's shoes on sale.
So many stores and sales can be a bit overwhelming, so if you are itching for a cheap find but fearful of the frenzy, go in with a game plan. Here is a sorted sketch of a few of the downtown deals to help you draw up your shopping strategy.
Men and women's apparel
Cheap printed or blank T-shirts and basic white T-shirt prints for $10 or $12. ACME will also make available a special "Do It Yourself" T-shirt creation station for customers to cut out their own vinyl designs and have them pressed onto a shirt. Prices vary.
• Brown’s Shoe Fit Co.
20 percent off merchandise in store and clearance sales on sidewalk outside. Brown's opens at 5 a.m.
• The Buckle Inc.
Men and women's clothing, accessories and jewelry. Further markdowns on sale items. Opens at 5 a.m.
Jewelry and clothing from $19.99 to $49.
• Shark’s Surf Shop
Select Sperry Top-Sider and adult Tom's shoes discounted; sandals almost 50 percent off; Shark's tanks in white and neon yellow on sale.
• Third Planet Imports
Bins of $5 clothing.
• Urban Outfitters
Women's and men's apparel, accessories and shoes discounted.
Merchandise from each department discounted up to 75 percent off, including home textiles, women's shoes, men's and women's summer sportswear. Highlights include bedding, pillows, mattress pads, women's bathing suits, backpacks and sunglasses.
• White Chocolate Experience
All merchandise discounted including $5 select clothing items, 20 percent off skateboards and women's jeans $12 to $15 dollars.
Women's apparel and accessories
• Bloom Bath and Body
Pajamas, lotions, accessories, totes, candles, scarves — or as manager Lisa Sanders says, "all the girly stuff" — and more on sale. Some items more than 50 percent off.
Maxi skirts for $15.99, dresses from $9.99 to $19.99 and additional markdowns on sale items.
$5 T-shirts; 3 for $10 camis; buy one, get one free sunglasses; $5 swim suits; $5, $7.99 and $13.99 sale racks. Opens at 5 a.m.
• The Etc. Shop
Leather goods, Brighton shoes, jewelry, vintage bomber jackets and vintage Ray-Ban sunglasses marked down
• Prairie Pond Studio & Bead Co.
Storewide sale with purses, jewelry, scarves and more available. Discounts from 20 to 70 percent off.
Clothing, purses, jewelry and Lily Pulitzer planners on sale up to 75 percent off.
25 to 70 percent off select items including handbags, shoes, socks.
• Eccentricity Too
Select items 50 to 70 percent off will be located on the on sidewalk. Everything in store at least 20 percent off; 40 percent summer items and 50 percent off home decor.
Women's clothing and accessories. Prices ranging from $3.99 to $24.99 on clearance racks. Shoes starting at $9.99. Thuy Soldner of Kieu's says to come inside for the deals. "Our side of the street is sunny after 10 a.m.," Soldner said. "It can get unbearably hot so we stay in the air conditioning."
• Prairie Patches
Discounts on discontinued Vera Bradley.
Everything but new arrival on sale. Dresses discounted 70 to 90 percent off and other items at 50 percent off. $5.99, $9.99 and $14.99 clothing on sidewalk. $1.99 bracelets.
Spanks, select name brands, shoes, jewelry and handbags. Discounts from 50 to 90 percent off.
Sports and Outdoor
• Francis Sporting Goods
Shoes, shorts, Adidas clothes and more on sale. Discounts starting at 40 percent and will be marked cheaper throughout the day.
• Jock’s Nitch Hawk Zone
Discounted hats, decor, athletic gear and shoes.
• Jock’s Nitch Sporting Goods
Athletic shoes on sale; take and extra 25 percent off already marked down items. Opens at 8 a.m.
• Sunflower Outdoor & Bike
Discounted North Face, winter and summer apparel; footwear on sale. Discounts range from 50 to 70 percent. $1, $5 and $10 items available.