11/25/05 — Let the shopping begin

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Let the shopping begin

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on November 25, 2005 1:49 PM

April Ayres may have come to Goldsboro to share Thanksgiving with relatives, but she was not ashamed to admit that the opportunity to go shopping was also a big draw.

Shortly after 6 a.m. this morning, while pushing her shopping cart through Kmart, she could hardly contain her excitement.

"I have been waiting for this forever," she said. "I love it! I get my thrill. I can't help myself."

Ayres said she came with a plan.

"Me and my cousin get together and strategize," she said. "Wal-Mart was first, Kmart was second, and I have a trillion other places to go."

Even in the thick of one of the busiest shopping days of the upcoming holiday season, she said she was finding the prices great and the people very pleasant.

"It's fun," she said. "You can't ask for anything better."

Some people refer to today's shopping frenzy as "Black Friday." For others, it's as much a tradition as turkey and dressing.

Margie Tyner of Goldsboro was shopping at Target with daughter Kim Brantham and 9-year-old granddaughter Hannah Brantham.

Hannah has accompanied them in recent years, her mother said, even though it meant getting out of bed at 5 a.m.

"She's the one last night that wanted to come early," Mrs. Tyner said.

Mrs. Brantham said the trio didn't have a formal plan.

"We just kind of come. We don't really have an agenda. We're just here to have fun."

For Ann Cashwell of Mount Olive, it's an annual event. With two young children, ages 7 and 23 months old, she came armed with a list. Dropping two Cabbage Patch dolls into her cart at Target, she said she had looked for the dolls at Wal-Mart, but they were sold out.

The dolls are still popular after more than 20 years in circulation, with customers clamoring for them at Target.

"People were standing there waiting for them to be put on the shelves," Mrs. Cashwell said. "They're already gone."

Jane Swartz of Bullock, N.C., was in town visiting family. She had already been to Wal-Mart and was making the rounds at Kmart, where her cart was over-flowing with items she planned to purchase.

She said her game plan was simple.

"We just wrote down what we wanted to look for and looked for it and that was it," she said.

Swartz said it was her first time venturing out on "Black Friday," and admitted she came because her daughter wanted to go.

"I don't know about next year," she said.

At Berkeley Mall, Peggy Uzzell of Elroy was easy to spot. While other shoppers cleared the aisle through the center of the mall, she was hunched over, pushing a large box from Sears as she made her way to an exit. The manual battery charger was a gift, too heavy to carry.

"You don't realize how long this mall is," she said during a short break from her trek.

She said she had gotten up before 4 a.m., coming out mostly for gift certificates. She started her shopping at 6 and within an hour had already been to several stores and was headed to Lowe's to look for bargains.

"Because of gas being so high, now you think twice before you turn a dollar loose," she said.

Terry and Karen Wallace of Dudley had the best seat in the house, relaxing on a bench in the mall with daughter Sarah Andrews and 10-month-old son T.J.

Ms. Andrews said she had been up since 3 a.m., with the rest of the family getting up an hour later. They had already been to several stores and were taking a break to wait for another relative to join them.

They admitted to spending time after Thanksgiving dinner checking out the various sales, deciding and dividing the list. They have been mapping out the shopping day for three years, they said.

By 7 a.m., Mrs. Wallace said, they had bought the items they had on their list.

Not everyone had a pressing need to shop. Gary Lancaster of Goldsboro said his role was to keep an eye on niece Hailey Deickman, 2, of Havelock while the rest of the family shopped in the mall. He found a stroller and some rides for Hailey, so was all set.

"If I see something when I'm walking, I may buy it," he said, but he seemed content being out of the thick of activity.

Merchants said they have seen a steady flow of early shoppers this year. Several said they expected it to really "break loose" today.

Jewelry and shoes are selling really well, J.C. Penney store manager Karen Witt said. Women's accessories like handbags and sleepwear were also popular items, she added.

At Kmart, Marlys Smothers, the store's unit and pricing manager, said Batman computer laptops in the kid's section and Bratz dolls and accessories have done particularly well, as does anything Barbie-related.

"It's always the Barbie holiday," she said.

The store is also selling a lot of outdoor decorations, with an increase being seen each year, she said.

Smother said she is hopeful that gas prices coming down will help convince shoppers to keep their wallets open.

"It seems more troops are home this year, and that will make for a better Christmas," she said. "People are in a cheerful mood. With the war trying to end, people seem calmer, more content."

Today's crowd at Michaels arts and crafts store was much bigger than last year's, said manager Raymond Riggan.

The store opened at 6 a.m., with some customers waiting as long as 40 minutes for the doors to open. While a craft store may not seem the likely choice for standing in line the day after Thanksgiving, Riggan said he was not surprised.

"A lot of times those that come early are our core customers and they're very familiar with our ads, what's going on sale and that's what brought them in," he said.

Even two hours after the sale started, he said there was still a steady stream of shoppers.