11/26/04 — Wayne stores see big crowds on retailers' busiest day

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Wayne stores see big crowds on retailers' busiest day

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 26, 2004 1:58 PM

Steven Bedsole has been employed at Wal-Mart for two and a half years, but this was his first time working the day after Thanksgiving. He said co-workers tried to warn him.

"They told me to be prepared for a big rush," he said.

Bedsole helps load heavy items and delivers them to customers' cars. This morning, he was also on "cart duty," returning shopping carts to the store from the parking lot. He said it had been very busy since he arrived at 5 a.m.

At least people could wait inside. Big-ticket sale items were covered in plastic throughout the store, where customers could line up and wait until the sale officially began at 6.

Cynthia Ayers of Snow Hill said she arrived at 4:30 and thought she could pick up things in advance, but found she had to wait in line. There were already many shoppers ahead of her.

She was not deterred, though.

"I got the main ingredients I came for," she said.

Cashier Nadine Cobb came on duty Thanksgiving night at 10. She said it had been pretty slow overnight.

Once the sale started, though, all 31 registers were open to minimize waiting, she said, "because people get agitated having to wait."

Things had been pretty orderly, which she said hasn't always been the case. Ms. Cobb has worked at the store for three years. "In years past," she recalled seeing "people fighting with each other over items."

The biggest push seemed to be for electronics and toys, although the lines for layaway ran a close second.

Wayne Tyndall of Seven Springs navigated the line with his wife, Beth. They said they had already waited in line for nearly 30 minutes for a DVD player before entering the layaway line.

In the parking lot, Joe and Lisa Daughtery of Walnut Creek headed to the far reaches where they had left their vehicle.

Daughtery said he rose at 4 a.m., fortified himself with coffee and headed to Wal-Mart.

"It was the digital cameras that got us out of bed," he said.

He said the family had a strategy session Thursday, with other members opting to go to Kmart and Staples. The plan was to meet later in the morning for breakfast.

Mrs. Daughtery was interrupted by a call on her cell phone from a family member she said was "going home to unload."

Robin McSwain of Mount Olive started out at Target, where she said the line was extremely long and the parking lot was full. The item she most wanted was gone, so she ventured down the road to Kmart, where she found an equally long line and parking at a premium.

This time, though, she was successful in her quest. The only delay was standing in the line to pay for it.

Maria Minor, Kmart manager, called the shopping frenzy "wonderful."

When the doors opened at 6, she said, "They were here, ready to shop."

She said by mid-morning, there had only been one glitch, for an advertised TV that was expected to arrive later in the day. She said the store took down customers' names and they would be notified when the truck arrived.

At Target shortly after 7, Cindy Kimble of Goldsboro was being reunited with her children -- Kelly Ann, 7, and Ryan, 3 -- who slept a little later at home with Grandma.

"They wanted to see what they're getting for Christmas," Mrs. Kimble said. "Hopefully we can keep it a secret."

Alphonso Johnson of Baltimore, Md., was picking up some computer items. He said he and his wife visit relatives here every Thanksgiving.

"We end up running around on 'Black Friday,'" he said, referring to the nickname retailers give the day after Thanksgiving when they hope to sell enough to get out of the red. "There are six of us, all going to stores together."

Deputy Aaron Cantwell, an off-duty officer from the Sheriff's Office, was called in by Target for extra security. He said that when he arrived at 5:30 a.m., the crowd extended to the street.

"No one was angry," he said, "just cold."

Once the doors opened, "the line was probably in the store within three to four minutes."

At Berkeley Mall, Stephanie Gelinas handed out flyers at the entrance of K-B Toys. She said people had waited outside the mall until 4:45, when they were allowed inside to wait for the store to open at 5.

She said there had been a steady stream of customers, but it was pretty orderly.

The big rush this year?

"Everything," she said. "We're running low on a lot of things."

At Radio Shack, sales associate Jessica Lofton said it was a "madhouse" once the doors opened.

"I have pretty much done like a week's paycheck already," she said at 8:15.

Eric David, store manager, said the crowd was to be expected.

"They know what time of the year it is," he said.

David said he had called other stores in different cities and found Goldsboro's to be a little busier in comparison.

At Gold and Diamond, Manager Adam Elrefaey said the flow of customers was comparable to last year. Popular items requested were rings and chains, many buying for mothers and sisters, he said.

The best part, though, was shoppers vs. browsers.

"Everybody comes to buy," he said.

Stationed near the center of the mall, Joy Dudley of Rosewood, a second-year student at Wayne Community College, was working at the Hickory Farms kiosk during the holiday season.

She said it had already been pretty busy in the week since it opened and expects that to continue.

"We're trying to get samples ready" of the different products, she said. "I'm sure once they start tasting them, it'll get busy."

Not everyone who was in today's crowd, though, was of the crowd.

At Kmart, Janell Anderson of Princeton took the casual approach as she checked out clothing prices.

She said she had left home at 6, first stopping at Belks for a couple of items.

"I had a few things I wanted to check out," she said. "But if they weren't there, that was OK."

When she finished at Kmart, she said, she planned to go home.

Betty Watts of Goldsboro was found strolling down a Walgreens aisle. She said she got up this morning and came out shopping for whatever she could find.

"I work, and most of the time I don't have time," she said. "Today I have plenty of time."

The store had opened at 6. Josh Brown, freight flow manager, said three people were outside when the doors were unlocked.

"It's been busy all morning," he said.

Sisters Helen Cox of Dudley and Carolyn Newsome of Fremont were making the rounds of a different kind. Eight laps around the mall to be exact, just as they do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The only difference this year was navigating where to park.

Ms. Cox said she arrived around 7:45. Ms. Newsome almost panicked as she approached the parking lot.

"It was just a mob," she said.

Luckily Ms. Cox called her sister's cell phone and guided her on where to park.

The two met and fell into their normal routine.

"Not shopping," Ms. Cox maintained. "Not even tempted."

"But I'm happy to see everybody shopping," Ms. Newsome said. "They look like they're really into it."