Deals come early
By Steve Herring, Ty Johnson, John Joyce and Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 23, 2012 1:46 PM
Shurby Lewis looks through shelves of Christmas figurines as she takes advantage of a Black Friday sale at Belk in Berkeley Mall early this morning. The Friday after Thanksgiving has become a holiday tradition for shoppers looking to save money on Christmas gifts and other items.
Patricia Jones and daughter Deondra, 11, look through a rack of clothes as they take advantage of a Black Friday sale at JCPenney in Berkeley Mall early this morning.
Tammy Keel of Mount Olive gets a start on her Christmas shopping early this morning at Target in Goldsboro. Instead of standing in a long line, she and her husband, Danny, and son, Caleb, waited until after the rush had settled down.
Amanda Conner from Kinston and her cousin, Carmon Caudell from Wilmington positioned themselves in a checkout line at JCPenney shortly after 6 a.m.
But it was not their first stop of the day for Black Friday.
They had started out at midnight, Ms. Conner said.
"We just kind of looked it up online to see who had the best sales," said Ms. Caudell.
"Target was at 12. We got to Walmart at 1," Ms. Conner said.
"It was 12:50," corrected her cousin. "And then we did Sears. I have got everything except for my iPad. The electronics were the hardest to get."
The duo said the crowds were "crazy," especially when the doors opened.
"I have been up for 25 hours now," Ms. Caudell said as the cashier rang up her purchase.
Susan Whitfield of Kinston had also made several stops before arriving at JCPenney.
"I started at Walmart last night at 8. I got everything on my list," she said. "We went from Walmart to Belk at 12, went to Goody's in Kinston, then Target, Kmart and now here.
"It's been fun. I'm done. I'm going home after this."
Eva Hayes, adjusting several packages in the women's section of JCPenney, opted to break her shopping excursion up into a couple different parts.
"We started last night at 9 o'clock and we ended at Walmart around 11:30. We got up at 4 and headed out again, went to Bath and Body, Starbucks," she said, holding up a cup of coffee.
Mrs. Hayes, whose husband now pastors a church in Newport, was at their Kenly home for the holiday. She has a grandchild who just turned one year old last month, so she was enjoying finding gifts.
"It was great," she said of the experience. "The stores were organized."
Strolling in-between stores at Berkeley Mall were Norma Armwood and her sister, Bernistine Royal, and Ms. Royal's daughter, Jo Royal, all from Newton Grove.
"What time did we get here?" Jo asked her mom and aunt.
"We got here around 5," Ms. Armwood replied. "We're just trying to find the best deals."
Rising early and heading out to the mall on Black Friday is a family tradition, the women said.
And except for missing out on a couple of bargains, they were in jovial spirits.
"I wanted an $8 Belgian waffle maker at Belk but they were sold out," Jo said.
"It's been great," Bernistine added. "Actually, it's been better this year because they opened up the stores yesterday. We like that because we don't like crowds."
"We're not serious shoppers," Jo said, laughing.
At Belk, Angela Kornegay from Mount Olive was wrapping up a nearly 12-hour trek around the county.
"We have been up all night -- Walmart, Kmart, here, we started at 6 o'clock yesterday -- I'm good, I'm great," she said. "I actually have got everything I need. I had a plan, we had a plan, and it has just gone very well."
Turner Wood, manager at Belk, was also pleased.
"It's been great," he said. "We opened at midnight this year; last year we opened at 3 o'clock. We did the gift card giveaway so we gave away almost 400 gift cards.
"The first lady in line said she got in line at 5:30 (Thursday afternoon). The line stretched from our door all the way down to JCPenney."
Once the doors opened, Wood said the store quickly filled with shoppers.
"The folks were in a festive mood," he said. "It was great, a great way to kick off the holiday season."
Throughout the mall, the pace was relaxed, as shoppers meandered or relaxed on benches clutching their spoils.
In one area, the quiet calm belied the chaos of just minutes before, when shoppers queued at JCPenney's multiple entrances all raced toward the finish line for $8 appliances.
Paola Gonzalez, 12, and Valeria Mar, 11, there with family members, stood guard on several purchases they almost missed out on because they entered the store at a more remote entrance than other shoppers.
Jo Southerland, 58, of Seven Springs brought her grandchildren to the mall to help with shopping, purposely arriving at 7 a.m. to miss the madness of the mall opening.
Her grandson, Reed, 15, said avoiding lines, finding ample parking and not having to deal with crowds contributed to their later arrival. That and the fact that the third member of their party, Vanessa, 11, had trouble rising before the sun.
"We've got good sense," Mrs. Southerland said.
The deals they were after were still there, she said. Reed, who memorized the shopping list, said they were after a bedroom set and scarves from Belk and clothes from American Eagle.
In Mount Olive, meanwhile, veteran Black Friday shopper Acheran Smith of Warsaw hadn't planned to stop at the Walmart earlier this morning until she saw the sparse amount of traffic in the store's parking lot.
"I decided to come later this time and it is better in here now," she said. "I am just looking this morning. I passed by the exit and I was like, 'Oh, let me turn back around and come back and see what is going on here at Walmart.'"
Ms. Smith was looking for toys and pajamas, with her next stop the Old Navy store in Goldsboro.
Like Ms. Smith, Antoinette Ammons of Mount Olive did not brave the Thursday night crowd.
"I was too scared to come out here. I didn't want to get in any fight with anybody," she joked. "Everything is gone. They started Thursday night at 8 o'clock, and everything is about gone now. They need to turn it into Black Thursday instead of Black Friday."
Ms. Ammons said friends who were at the store Thursday night said it was crowded and that was why she decided to wait until Friday morning.
"I like it (few shoppers)," she said. "It is calm, cool and collected. I like it. I am still been able to find a few bargains. I have not been in here that long.
"I was looking for a meat slicer but they said that only two came on the truck. So I guess that means I won't be getting it, will I?"
Thanksgiving night crowds were also steady.
Hundreds gathered early outside of Kmart Thursday afternoon as early as 4 p.m., anxiously looking to score a 50-inch flat-screen plasma TV for as low as $288.
First in line was Kristi Andrews, of Albertson.
She and her two companions repositioned the only available bench to directly in front of the entrance.
"It's worth it," she said, sharing that they intended to go camp out next at Walmart.
"They let you sit inside, and they have bathrooms," she said.
Behind her were Tomeka Watkinson who came from LaGrange, and Josh Joyner, who drove in from Mount Olive. Other shoppers behind them traveled from as far as Clinton and Warsaw.
They came for TVs, Nintendo NES game systems, and HP computers.
Not everyone left with the items they came for; some left empty-handed.
One shopper couldn't contain her excitement, but not for a bargain on electronics -- she purchased her first Christmas tree.
"Its my first Christmas tree in my first house," said Samantha Barrow, 21. Her cart was stuffed with crimson accent pillows, and none of the things one might expect to see at a retail store on the eve of Black Friday.
What Ms. Barrow did have in common with most of the other shoppers, though, was plenty of holiday cheer.