Gurnee Mills will be open on Thanksgiving
Gurnee Mills' general manager says Black Friday will become Black Thursday this year.
At a Gurnee village board meeting Monday night, mall general manager Randy Ebertowski informed elected officials the doors for shopping will open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. He said the mall will remain open overnight and won't close until 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29.
Mayor Kristina Kovarik said too many consumers are seeing advertising on Thanksgiving Day and heading online to shop before Black Friday. She said she supports Gurnee Mills' decision to open on Thanksgiving because that'll translate into more sales tax revenue for the village.
"Otherwise, we're losing too many sales to the Internet overnight," Kovarik said.
Ebertowski said 8 p.m. will be a "comfortable" time to open Thanksgiving Day.
"Black Friday is now Black Thursday," he said.
As part of the meeting, Gurnee officials received an update about the benefits the village is receiving from the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Ebertowski credited the visitors bureau for boosting Gurnee Mills' bottom line.
Gurnee and Lake County government are the visitors bureau's biggest financial supporters. Bureau President Maureen Riedy said Lake Zurich this year became the latest village to join a roster of 12 municipalities and the county.
In the current Gurnee budget running through April 30, 2014, the village has set aside $124,700 for the agency. The bureau uses a variety of platforms to promote Lake County tourism.
Gurnee ships 20 percent of its hotel-motel tax revenue to the visitors bureau under an agreement that's been in place since 1986. Annual amounts fluctuate from the amount derived from a 5 percent room tax.
"You just do a tremendous job putting us on the map," Kovarik told Riedy.
Riedy said the bureau received a $1.1 million state tourism grant this year. She said the grant is an increase of nearly 6 percent and was the largest ever provided by the state.
Visitors bureau efforts helped fill 3,416 Gurnee hotel rooms in the past 12 months, many from groups traveling for soccer, baseball and basketball tournaments, Riedy said. She said the coming weekend will bring 250 members from the Illinois Association of Snowmobile Clubs to Holiday Inn Gurnee.
Tourism was a $1.16 billion industry for Lake County in 2012, Riedy said, and created 10,120 jobs.