Black Friday still holds power over deal seekers

By Caroline Klapper | Nov 22, 2012
Photo by: Caroline Klapper Jacob Gurner helps his family shop at Walmart during the early Black Friday sales on Thursday evening.

While the crowds were as thick as ever at stores for this year's Black Friday events, the famous (or infamous) biggest shopping day of the year might have to turn its title over to Thursday as big box behemoth Walmart decided to get a jump on the day by offering sales at 8 and 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night.

A big turkey meal earlier in the day didn't deter Debbie Hoyle, who was waiting with the rest of the crowd for Walmart's first sale at 8 p.m. She was in housewares looking to score good deals on Rubbermaid storage containers, but instead of fighting the crowd as one might expect, Hoyle made friends with her competition to ensure mutual success.

"I always get good deals," she said with a smile, adding other family members were staking out different parts of the store to cover all the bases.

Standing next to her was Ruth Simoson, who had never been to a Black Friday sale before, but was there this time to help her niece. She said even though she and Hoyle were "total strangers," she'd made a deal with her fellow shopper to grab extra of one type of container for Hoyle if she would do the same.

"It's team work," she said. "We'll get six of each and then swap half."

Simoson was prepared for a long night ahead, saying she was staying at Walmart until the 10 p.m. sale.

"It's crazy," she said with a laugh.

But Simoson wasn't the only one ready for a long night.

Ashley Justice said she goes to the Black Friday sales every year, and this year was no exception. She had her whole night planned starting with Walmart, then moving on to Belk and Best Buy for the midnight sales.

"I got everything I needed," she said after Walmart's 8 p.m. sale.

When asked if dealing with the crowds and chaos was worth it, she answered, "Yes and no. You get good deals, but the crowds are the most difficult thing."

For Vicki Holzknecht, getting in line early at Belk was vital to making sure she got what she wanted out of Black Friday — boots.

"I enjoy it, but I'm also here for a good deal on boots and the gift card," she said, referring to the gift cards Belk gave away to the first 250 people in line.

Holzknecht was not only there early, but she was also first in line, arriving at 8 p.m. for a cold 4-hour wait as temperatures dropped into the 30s.

But the wait is worth it, she said, explaining that she gets nice boots for $20 that would normally cost $60-$70.

"It's definitely worth it. You get good deals," she said.

Mother and daughter team Sue and Emily Hooper weren't far behind Holzknecht in line, but they admitted they had to call in reinforcements to bring them snacks and a blanket to ward off the cold.

Sue said she and her daughter were hoping to get a gift card that was worth a lot to help with their Christmas shopping.

"We'll see when we get inside," Emily said.

Meanwhile across the Waynesville Commons Shopping Center, the line in front of Best Buy was growing steadily, but that didn't concern Derek Linder and Katie Crowley, who had been camping out in front of the store since 10 a.m. the previous day.

"We slept on concrete last night, " Linder said with a laugh.

The discomfort was worth it though, he said, because he and Crowley both got one of the 10 tickets for a 40-inch LCD television.

While the wait was difficult, Linder said the staff at Best Buy was extremely nice and even bought the couple lunch that day.

Matt Tagliaferri and Charles Turner called in their wives to bring them coffee while they waited in line to get a good deal on laptops, but both reiterated that the Best Buy staff was great and the wait wasn't too bad.

"They've come out and checked on us," Turner said with only a few minutes until the store officially opened at midnight.

Although the two men were willing to brave the Black Friday crowds, Tagliaferri admitted there was some irony in the whole process.

"There's nothing better to do than spend the day giving thanks and then that night come and fight people for things you want," he said with a chuckle.