Back in black: Retailers look to year's biggest shopping day
By Anessa Myers, Bonnie Edwards & Catharin Shepard
Published in News on November 28, 2008 1:46 PM
A line of customers waits to check out early this morning at the Staples store in Goldsboro during Black Friday shopping.
Early morning shoppers started showing up in the parking lot at Target around 2 a.m in hopes of latching onto some of the great bargains.
For many, shopping on the day after Thanksgiving is a family affair.
Angel Webb and her daughter Baillie of Snow Hill were part of the early crowd hitting Goldsboro stores this morning but said they had actually started shopping the night before.
"We were at the pottery (in Smithfield) at 11," Angel said as she left the Belk store at Berkeley Mall around 5 a.m. today.
They may have shared the tradition for nearly a decade. But it's unlikely that they will start out as early next year.
"It wasn't worth it," she said. "You couldn't even turn around in any of the (outlet) stores."
Shelda and son, Ty Johnson, of Goldsboro were also out looking for deals.
"We saw a few things we want in the sale papers, but I'm mostly here to see if anything jumps out at me for someone I haven't bought anything for yet," Ms. Johnson said.
The two planned to end their shopping trip by noon, followed by a long nap at home.
First cousins Marie Cuddington and Angela Waters of Goldsboro are Black Friday experts. The day has earned the nickname "Black Friday" because it is the day many retailers look to get their books out of the red.
The cousins annually call each other and map out a shopping strategy. This year, one of those was to stand in line at Belk to receive one of the 250 gift cards the store was giving away. Marie missed getting a card by eight people.
Still, their shopping experience turned out well, and they appreciated the fact that other shoppers were pleasant.
"We have never had any fights. People are extra friendly," Angela said. "I wish they would be like that every other time of the year."
The economy contributed to Moses and Crystal Baca's strategy. The Goldsboro couple were primarily seeking clothes for their children.
"We won't be buying many toys this year," Mrs. Baca said.
Mary Spell of Clinton got up at 3 a.m. to scope out a handbag sale.
"And I wanted to beat the rush," she said.
The veteran Black Friday shopper said she would likely end her aisle browsing at 6 a.m., "when the dollars run out."
This was Debbie Davis' first Black Friday experience.
"I was teasing with my daughter last night, and we decided we would come out," she said.
She called the experience "crazy" and said she would never do it again.
Kristen Taylor of Snow Hill normally doesn't get in the fray, but joined her husband's sister and aunt. They rose at 4:30 a.m., making Goody's their first stop.
Shelly Ballew, who traveled from Michigan to visit her daughter in Goldsboro, stood in line with her mother, Violet Bernor, who lives in Florida, at Game Stop to buy a Nintendo Wii Fit game for her 19-year-old daughter.
"I have been looking for one for a year," she said.
Robert Collier III and son Robert Jr. waited in line at RadioShack to buy an MP3 player.
Amy Sparks and her mother, Kay Baker, were shopping for toys, but mostly hoping to save some money on presents this year.
Mrs. Baker said she likes to come shopping on this day in particular "to try and get into the holiday spirit."
Despite the economy, stores in Berkeley Mall fared well, officials said.
Doris Palmer, an associate at JCPenney, said that the store has seen a steady influx of cash.
"It was crazy, and we did great," she said.. "We did better than last year. We probably had about 100 or more people standing outside when we opened at 4 a.m. We have had a good morning. It shows the money is still flowing."
Brandon Rice, merchandising coordinator for Belk, said that the store had customers outside at 3:30 this morning -- a good 90 minutes before the doors opened.
"We had more customers waiting than gift cards, so that shows that business is good. We are running right with the figures from last year, so we are excited," he said. "We are hoping to do about what we did last year on this day."
John Gibson let his wife sleep in and brought 6-year-old daughter, Sariah, to shop at Target.
Amy Potter pulled into the Target parking lot at 2:30, one of only three cars. Soon after she arrived, though, everyone piled out and made a mad dash for the door, she said.
Jonathan Roda of Goldsboro and his friend, Chris Rendon, mapped out their strategy at the Target store. Once inside, one of the airmen would head for a global positioning system, while the other sought a camera priced at $89.99.
"This is not my first rodeo. I knew I'd have to get here early," said Roda, who recalled his mother bundling him up as a child to accompany her on post-Thanksgiving shopping jaunts.
Keshonda Baker and her mother went to Ollie's, where they divided the list and fanned out.
"We have a plan. We were 4 a.m. at JCPenney, 5 a.m. at Wal-Mart and 6 a.m. here and Target. And then we're done," Miss Baker said. "We have a semi-list. We have it in our head what we want. We'll go in and get it and then go to the next store. Once we're inside, we'll split up and keep in contact with our cell phones."
Jill Nielsen shopped by herself at Michael's. She said she used to laugh at shoppers who got up early on the day after Thanksgiving, but not any more.
"Now, it's the only way. It gets you in the spirit. Saturday is for decorating, hot chocolate and s'mores. We build a fire in the back yard and sing Christmas carols. With so much going on, you need a little uplift," said Mrs. Nielsen, there to pick up some lights.
At Wal-Mart, some of the big ticket items sold out quickly.
Cousins David Hines and Melissa Graham of Princeton teamed up to find a flat-screen television, but opted for a more expensive model after the one they were looking for sold out almost immediately.
"It's not the one I wanted. They said that one was gone at 5 a.m.," said Hines. "I'm paying $200 more for this one."
High-definition televisions prominently stuck out among the landscape of shopping carts full of clothes, toys and linens. While the 40-inch Samsung model was particularly popular, Harold Thompson of Kinston and son-in-law Tom Cooke of Seven Springs opted for two of the 50-inch TVs priced at $800 each.
"I bought the same model a year ago for $1,800," Cooke said.
The economy didn't seem to be affecting shoppers, Thompson said.
"If the economy is bad here, you don't know it," he said.
Many shoppers were after bargains for themselves. Tyvonia Eaton said she was more concerned about the quality than the price of the desktop computer she planned to buy.
Her fiancé, Devin Mervin, said he wasn't worried about the item selling out early.
"I didn't think they would go fast. Everybody's looking for the cheapest," he said. "There's no reason to get up super early, you have to stand in line anyway."
Wal-Mart associate Dannel Smith, working his first Black Friday sale, said microwaves proved to be a popular item this year, selling out in less than a minute.
"We had to keep customers from getting into the merchandise, then help them find what they're looking for," he said.
Neighbors Katelyn Swayne and Sara Poole were shopping for family members at Kmart -- Mrs. Poole picked up a Dora the Explorer toy bike for her 2-year-old daughter and a GPS on sale.
Shelia Dunn was headed to Kmart after encountering the bigger crowds of Wal-Mart.
"I've never come out for Black Friday, I thought I'd check it out," she said. "I'm glad I did. I found everything I wanted."
But not everyone was filled with comfort and joy.
JoAnn Delano of Goldsboro said while shopping at Ollie's, she heard about a fight that happened across the street at Wal-Mart.
"I heard there was a fight over the microwaves," she said.
Meanwhile, at the Mount Olive Wal-Mart, Mary Miller of Goldsboro said, "People were ripping the items out of the crates before the employees could cut the plastic off."
Keecia Rouse of Goldsboro visited the Rosewood Wal-Mart, where she said lines to the electronics department were out the door at 4:30 a.m. She was there for the $1.50 bath towels.
"There were plenty of them while I was there, but they're probably gone now," she said. "There were some friendly people, but most were just grabbing."
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