Black Friday in Bismarck appeared to be off to a slow start, but warm weather coupled with good deals brought out swarms of shoppers to the Kirkwood Mall, Pinehurst Square Shopping Center, Gateway Mall and other retailers, such as Menards and Lowe's.

The Kirkwood Mall remained closed on Thanksgiving, but some anchor stores, including JCPenney, kept with the holiday tradition and opened Thursday for those looking to nab a bargain.

Jennifer Wilson, general manager of Kirkwood Mall, said 200 people lined up at 6 a.m. Friday waiting for the shopping center to open, as well as for their doorbuster promotion of 200 $10 gift certificates to various retailers inside. After 6 a.m., there was a lull, but shopping picked back up after about 7:30 a.m., according to Wilson.

Mall hallways remained packed midday Friday, as people ambled around with shopping carts full of bags and made trips back-and-forth to their cars. Wilson said sales were strong for national retailers such as H&M, Victoria's Secret and Scheels.

"The retailers that I’ve spoke to are exceeding last year’s numbers," said a gleeful Wilson, adding that the warm weather has helped "tremendously."

Without a threat of snow or cold weather to stop them, Wilson said there were many shoppers coming from out of town. Some retailers' promotions will continue through the weekend and Monday.

Kirkwood Mall is also participating in Small Business Saturday, a movement started by American Express that aims to get people to shop post-Thanksgiving at small businesses. Wilson said the shopping center has 20 locally-owned businesses that will be offering specials on Saturday.

Dozens of small business throughout Bismarck will also be offering specials on Saturday. For a list, visit The Downtowners website, where an interactive map shows the deals around town.

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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Education and Health Reporter