The lure of a bargain attracted hundreds of eager hunters from all over Northeast Ohio to Wooster.
There were so many shoppers on hand, Wooster Police were called in Friday morning to keep a watchful eye on things inside and outside of the Dollar1 store on Portage Road.
They gathered outside as early as 6 a.m. — four hours before opening — to be among the first to have a crack at sorting through the large blue bins full of everything from drones to Barbies to fluffy blankets all for just $6.
And within minutes of the doors opening, they closed again as all the 100 carts were gone and the store had reached capacity.
The rules were simple.
Shop as long as you like, but once your cart is full you have to check out and go back outside to the end of the line.
Amy Howman, director of sales for Dollar1 and its sister outlet stores Everything Surplus and Clothing Warehouse, located in the same plaza, said they expected to create buzz with their new concept store where prices go down each day. But even store officials were surprised by the crowds, which was so large they had to call Wooster Police for reinforcements.
Turns out the shoppers, while eager to get inside, were well behaved and amused by the party-like atmosphere created by workers outside dressed in inflated costumes, like one that gives the appearance of riding a horse.
"Our concept is every Friday will be like Black Friday," she said.
And every Saturday through Wednesday will be like the day after Christmas as the prices drop each day from $4 an item to as little as 25 cents on the last day. Thursday the outlet is closed to restock for the next Friday reopening.
Howman said the company purchases overstocks and past season items from a variety of suppliers and vendors to keep the bins full.
The retail value of many of the items is in the $50 range, she said, with some fetching as much as $200 online.
The Apple products are being mixed in the first week among the 7,500 to 10,000 items just to keep things interesting and exciting for those willing to dig through the large bins.
There are also some items from potato chips to coffee sold by the case on pallets.
"The plan is to sell out on quarter day and then start over," she said.
Alyssa and David Jeffers were first in line. They left their house in Louisville at 4 a.m. in search of bargains.
They ended up with two cart fulls of everything from toys to blankets.
"I got a whole case of Ho-Hos for $6 so I'm pretty excited about that," she said.
The once-neglected shopping area north of Wooster that was once home to a Hawkins grocery story and a Kmart is quickly becoming a bargain hunters Mecca.
In addition to the trio of outlets, a Dollar Tree has opened and a thrift store is getting ready to open in the plaza at the corner of Portage Street and Akron Road (state Route 585). The former Kmart next door is home to a new Marc's store and an Ollie's Discount Outlet is about to open.
Howman said they welcome all the new off-price retailers and hope even more will follow suit.
She hinted they might have another store or two up their sleeves in addition to Everything Surplus, which offers everything from food to furniture, and Clothing Warehouse, which also has locations in Medina and Fairlawn and specializes in deeply discounted clothes and home goods.
A toy fish tank complete with a plastic jellyfish and a pair of weighted blankets were the Dollar1 shopping finds for Leah Male.
The Plain Township shopper said it was a lot like Black Friday shopping in September.
"I like digging through stuff," Male said. "This has been a lot of fun."
Craig Webb, who had his eye on box of 50 bags of Funyons, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.