Tuscola's Black Friday extra busy as state title game looms

Tuscola's Black Friday extra busy as state title game looms

TUSCOLA — The Christmas shopping season is kicking off today in the Outlets at Tuscola — hours before the Tuscola Warriors kick off in the state football finals in DeKalb.

"We are jumping up and down. My son is in the band, so he's going to be up north (today) to play in the band, and a lot of our townspeople are going to be going," said Devon Flesor Story, co-owner of Flesor's Candy Kitchen in Tuscola. "I will be here because I own the store and can't leave."

Across the street at Winterberry antiques, owner Donna Kidwell will be following closely from afar, as well.

"We'll be listening on the radio," she said. "It's just all fun. It's what brings the community together."

The Warriors have made the IHSA football playoffs 22 out of the last 23 seasons, winning a pair of state championships. They're back in the finals again today for the first time since 2011, when they were runner-up.

While Northern Illinois' Huskie Stadium may be packed with fans, Story and Kidwell still expect to be busy, as the Outlets at Tuscola attract shoppers from all over the area.

"We're going to be packed, even though there's the ball game and everything," Story said. "A lot of people come to town to shop and then they eat here, and our store has become a destination."

She said Tuscola has become a halfway point for families to meet up and shop in. And for families staying in Tuscola, shopping can be an escape.

"A lot of families have children living out of town that all show up for Thanksgiving, then by Friday or Saturday, they're tired of turkey and each other, so they come here," Story said.

In addition to candy and ice cream, Flesor's Candy Kitchen has a breakfast and lunch menu.

And for the first time, Flesor's will be opening a pop-up shop at the outlet mall on Black Friday to "reach some folks who go to the mall but not necessarily downtown," she said.

"We're a candy store. This is a huge time for us," Story said.

Kidwell's husband, Richard Kidwell, runs Daylight Donuts in Tuscola and will be up long before kickoff.

On Black Friday, the store will open earlier than its regular time of 3 a.m.

"We're going to be open about 11 or 12 that Thursday night," he said. "And there will be crazies out the door."

It will be a long day for him, but he said, "They all are."

On a regular day, he gets there around midnight and leaves at 5 p.m.

"Without a good staff, you just couldn't do it," he said.

City Administrator Drew Hoel said "a significant part of the shopping visits" are from out-of-towners.

"Our mall does a really good job of getting things going Thursday night into Friday morning," he said. "And I think the football crowd is a large contingent for sure, but what we've seen in the past is a lot of out-of-town shoppers."

Hoel planned to be in DeKalb for today's big game.

"I've got a nephew who plays," he said. "My family and I are devoted football fans, and we're certainly not going to miss this one."