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Tucked in between large, national stores such as Old Navy and Marshall’s, small boutiques line Jamaica Avenue’s shopping district for more than a dozen blocks, offering an assorted mix — with a heavy emphasis on fashion — of bargains that draw shoppers all year long and especially on Black Friday.
But some bargain hunters board special tour buses and travel farther than others for the deals.
“The main thing is prices are a lot cheaper,” said Traylene Hines, who estimated she would have paid about 40 percent more for the purses, jogging suit and scarf she picked up last week had she bought them in her home state of Ohio. “Here, I get more items for a cheaper price, and it’s the same quality.”
After eating her Thanksgiving dinner, Hines boarded a charter bus with about 35 others around 8 p.m. last Thursday. Some 12 hours later they arrived in Jamaica, their first stop on a shopping tour that would take them to Harlem, Chinatown and northern New Jersey.
And their group was just one of three in Jamaica Friday. In fact, charter groups make the trip all year round, taking advantage of the opportunity to visit New York City, stop at multiple shopping districts and maybe even take in a Broadway show now and then.
But mostly it’s for the shopping.
“It’s a lot cheaper than in Canada because the taxes are lower,” said bus driver Ken Mitchell, who bought three faux-leather jackets priced at $20 each with an additional 25 percent off. “Up home you’d probably pay $70 to $80. How can you go wrong for $15 a piece?”
The drive from Nova Scotia to New York took about 20 hours and required the bus to make a stop in Maine to switch drivers to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations.
Kenley Konnection, the travel company Hines took from Ohio, charged $199 a person — $175 for a group of four — for a trip that included two days of shopping and a hotel stay in New Jersey.
“For someone to drive here, get a hotel, pay for parking ... the cost can be astronomical,” Hines said. “And if you fly, you have to think about checking your bags and shipping them back home.”
This year the group brought along two buses, a sign Hines said makes her think the economy is getting better.
“It makes me hope next year will be even better for travel and tourism.”
By comparison, Barbara McCutcheon’s trip was relatively short. She was able to board her bus in Maryland for a day trip to the city. At midday she packed her purchases into the bottom of her bus: seven shawls for 10 bucks a pop.
When asked, she said she did not feel as though she were missing any Black Friday deals back home in the Old Line State.
“I can shop there any time,” she said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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