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Local shoppers say they plan to find great deals and spend less money this year

Although stores in Willmar were full and busy on Black Friday, many shoppers who were waiting in line to get those one-day deals said they would spend less this year because of the economy.

"Our family is no longer buying for each other, we're just buying for the kids who haven't graduated from high school," said Misty Langseth, from Raymond. That means a reduction of about 20 gifts this year.

"The economy is definitely affecting our spending and it's definitely affecting our family," said Dena Carlson, of Litchfield, who was shopping at Menards. She and her husband have agreed not to exchange gifts this year and will instead buy gifts for a family in need "because we know the economy is so bad."

Her sister, Paulette Liestman, said her son's classmates won't be exchanging gifts this year because families are struggling.

"We're definitely spending less this year than we have in the past," Liestman said. They're taking some of the money they would normally spend on gifts and donating it to the food shelf.

Melinda Paulsrud of Benson said their family made an agreement this year for "fewer gifts and less total price, and for some we just said no gifts at all."

By taking advantage of Black Friday sales, "I was able to save on everybody's gifts this year," she said.

"This is a tough year for a lot of people," Carlson said.

Agencies are reporting increased requests for assistance from people affected by the poor economy. That message was evident on Friday.

As shoppers hustled in and shopping carts rattled out the door at Wal-Mart, at 6:30 a.m., Lt. Aubrey Robbins from the Willmar Salvation Army stood nearby ringing a bell and singing "What Child is This" is a clear voice that didn't waver in the cold temperatures. Occasionally people stopped to stuff a few bills into the red kettle.

Down the road at Caribou Coffee, Jim Kroona, from Willmar Ambulance, was waiting for people to drop off toys in a "stuff the ambulance" campaign for the Salvation Army. By 7 a.m. he'd had "a few" donations. He expected it to pick up after the morning rush of shopping was done. Donations will continue to be accepted through next Friday at Rice Hospital emergency room.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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