11/22/07 — Battle for bargins officially beginning

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Battle for bargins officially beginning

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 22, 2007 8:12 AM

Thousands of Wayne County residents won't use Friday as a day to sleep in a few extra hours.

There is war to be waged.

They will be up before dawn, store advertisements and shopping lists in hand, waiting in lines in search of the next big holiday bargain.

And, if they are like Lynn Strickland of Nahunta, they will bring reinforcements.

Mrs. Strickland, her mother, Linda Brock, and her 14-year-old daughter, Taylor, plan to fan out to make the most of bargain day.

But she doesn't wait until Friday morning to map out her strategy.

That starts with a scouring of the Black Friday Web site and the newspaper inserts.

After that and a comparison to the family shopping list, it is time for a battle plan.

"We'll decide who's got what and decide what we want and take it from there," Mrs. Strickland said.

And that means an early start.

Mrs. Strickland's day will begin in the line in front of Kohl's in Raleigh. The doors open at 4 a.m., but she will be there at 2:30 a.m.

Her mom and daughter will be staked out at Target and Sam's -- with their lists in hand.

"If Kohl's has something I want, you can get in and out in no time, and Mom can hold a spot for me in line at Sam's. And I can hold a spot at Target," Mrs. Strickland said.

When they are through in Raleigh, the trio will have plenty of time to hit the lines at some Goldsboro stores.

And they will not be alone. Millions of Americans will forgo sleep Friday to take advantage of the specials.

Black Friday is the name retailers have given the day after Thanksgiving -- the one day of the year that yields so much revenue that it sends stores' books back into the black.

Although the main doors to Berkeley Mall open at 8 a.m., J.C. Penney opens at 4 and Belk and Sears open at 5 a.m.

Mall walkers are urged to pick another day for their morning exercise.

Sears manager Steven Mull and his crew are ready to handle the crowds. He advises Black Friday shoppers to remain patient, to be courteous and to ask for substitutes when they don't find what they want in an ad.

"We go through it so quickly," Mull said. "Quantities are limited no matter where you go."

And if you don't want to brave the lines -- there is always the Internet.

Customer can order advertised items on the Internet and get them shipped free to their home -- and they might even discover a few extra, unadvertised values.

"They're doing a lot of online specials on the Web," Mull said.

Sam's Club will open at 5 a.m. and shoppers who start their day there will not have to go hungry.

Continental breakfast is planned until 9:30 a.m.

Goldsboro Wal-Mart manager Pete Flanigan will start his Black Friday sales at 5 a.m., too.

And there also will be refreshments at his store on Spence Avenue.

"While they will have 600, we'll have 6,000 people," Flanigan said about his store and Sam's.

He won't have a line, because his store -- like the ones in Mount Olive and Rosewood -- is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All three Wal-Marts will unveil their merchandise for the Black Friday sale at 5 a.m.

Mrs. Strickland said she probably won't hit Wal-Mart, but she still is hunting a couple of items -- a portable PlayStation 2, for example -- which are still eluding her.

There is always hope, she said.

Old Navy will probably be one of their stops, and then it is off to Radio Shack. Mrs. Strickland has her heart set on a camera there.

"I have nieces and nephews who graduate all the time. This is not just for Christmas. I can hold onto them until June and give them all a nice camera," Mrs. Strickland said.

Black Friday is a tradition for mother and daughter -- and this year, granddaughter.

"(Taylor) can handle herself in a store better than I can," Mrs. Strickland said. "She is the first to grab a sales associate and say, 'Excuse me.' We touch base back and forth and say, 'Where are you at? What you got? What you need?' Kmart always has good deals on jewelry. They make good stocking stuffers for the cousins and nieces and grandma."

The trio will make a day of it. They will shop, eat breakfast, get warm.

"It's always cold that day. You can be running around in a T-shirt and shorts Thanksgiving Day, and the next day, it's going to be cold," Mrs. Strickland said. "But it's fun. You sit down at the end of the day and you can't believe the people you've met and how vicious they can get."

And there is a code of honor among shoppers.

Mrs. Strickland said she saw a man lose his place in line to grab a woman who was trying to cut into the line.

"He nailed her. It's common decency to respect someone who has been in line when you arrive," she said. "These people stand in line in the cold for an hour and a half. You don't stand propped against a car and jump line five minutes from the door opening. You don't do that."

Mrs. Strickland doesn't mind the cold, and she admonishes the line-jumpers to not do it again.

"You stand in line and talk to people. We have gotten at the Target store early enough to be third in line."

This year, Target opens at 6 a.m., along with Kmart. The Roses store in Mount Olive opens two hours later at 8 a.m.

Mrs. Strickland and her entourage will be ready.

"You take your coffee. You wear your gloves. Taylor's phone has Internet on it. There's always somebody to talk to at 4 a.m. My sister calls me to say, 'have fun,' and she goes back to bed."