ASHWAUBENON - With gigantic stockings hung by the skylights—most likely with care—it is truly beginning to look a lot like the holiday season at Bay Park Square Mall - even though Thanksgiving is still more than a week away.
"We are starting to put the decorations up. Santa Claus arrives next Saturday," said Bay Park Square Mall General Manager Judy Tullius. "All of our holiday tenants are here for the holidays. Next weekend is widow's weekend as we call it, so that's the true start."
Outside of Bay Park Square Mall, the holiday traffic control measures are already in place. You can't turn left if you're going north on Holmgren Way and you want to get into the mall.
Tullius said stores are set for next weekend's crowds.
"The Saturday before Thanksgiving is actually a bigger day than the day after Thanksgiving now," Tullius said.
Bay Park Square is set to open at midnight on Black Friday. But one of its tenants, Shopko, has announced it's opening its doors at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
"Families are already together. Why not have a great meal, give thanks, and head out to the stores together and enjoy shopping?" said Jill Soltau with Shopko.
While some are thrilled at the prospect of more time to shop, others said consumerism has gone too far.
"I think it's great. It's a way to get less people, less congestion at the mall. We usually celebrate our Thanksgiving in the afternoon, so I wouldn't mind it," said Lori Fredrick, shopping with her daughters on Sunday.
"It's way overkill. We focus way too much on it, and the reason for the season is never looked upon like it should be," said Marge Kitzinger, who described herself as usually avoiding the malls around the holidays.
Tullius said sales at the mall have been up this fall. She's expecting a more profitable holiday season than last year.
Whether you're drawn to the boughs and bows, or will spend the next month avoiding stores altogether, it's undeniable - the holidays are coming, faster than you might think.
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