People out shopping in Market Heights on Friday morning had a variety of reasons for braving the Black Friday hustle and bustle. For most, the experience was as much about spending time together as it was about finding a good deal on Christmas gifts.
“It’s a fun time for me, and it’s a lifelong tradition,” said Vera Long of Copperas Cove, who was out shopping Friday morning in Market Heights with her daughter and her daughter’s lifelong friend.
The three women were all laughs, seemingly immune to Black Friday stresses.
“We get out and get into the Christmas spirit,” Long said.
Long’s daughter, Deborah Walker of Copperas Cove, said her mom is almost 91 years old.
“We have to come out because it’s a tradition,” Walker said. For at least 20 years the group of family and friends has shopped together on Black Friday, with as many as 30 people joining the store-roving party at times.
They’ve snagged some deals on the way.
Last year, Jean Livingston of Copperas Cove, Walker’s friend, bought a video baby monitor for half-price as a Christmas present.
“It’s connected to the internet, so I get to see my granddaughter sleeping in Florida,” she said.
For them, it’s about family as much as it is about finding a good deal.
Even though Black Friday has seeped into Thanksgiving Day, Long, Walker and Livingston stay home on the holiday.
“That’s family time,” Walker said. “If we miss out on the sale, then we miss out.”
The next morning, though, it’s go-time.
“Black Friday is about family and Starbucks hot chocolate and coffee,” she said. “We buy presents for each other and for the kids, but it’s all about being together.”
Another person was in a family frame of mind as she perused a bookshelf of kids’ books at Barnes and Noble in Market Heights.
“I’m not usually a Black Friday shopper, but I saw 50 percent off kids’ books so I decided to get out,” said Tesca Michaelson of Temple. She was looking for perfect books for her nephews, ages 2 and 5 months.
“So I’m buying indestructible, slobber-proof, rip-proof, 100 percent washable books,” she said with a laugh.
Cousins Angel Glenn of Killeen and Zana Warren, visiting from out of town, had been up since 4:30 a.m.
The pair shop on Black Friday every year and have been shopping buddies their entire lives. “We’ve always gotten the best deals on electronics,” Glenn said.
Black Friday has become notorious, and the cousins did see some folks earlier in the day who had left their manners at home.
“There were some feisty people out,” Glenn said.
In the age of Amazon.com, it’s not always easy to get folks out from behind their laptop screens, so store management offer unbeatable deals as well as ambiance.
Barnes and Noble had a relaxed atmosphere Friday morning, but the bookseller saw its traffic increase after noon, said the store manager.
“People start coming in after they’ve hit the big stores earlier in the morning,” said Regina Hebert. Hebert, who opened the store more than 10 years ago, said she was happy with Black Friday business.
“It’s going how we normally trend,” she said. The bookseller offered several other enticements to get folks in the door, including signed books, drink specials, a sale on Nooks, a promotion on Lego products and tons of Harry Potter gifts.
“Since Toys R Us closed, we’ve increased our offerings of toys and games,” Hebert said. The store also has story times and activities for children.
Hebert said her store offers some extended hours during the holiday season, but in general she tries to keep normal business hours.
The smell of fresh coffee is just one thing that could be missing from an online shopping experience.
“Customer service is the difference,” Hebert said. “I tell my booksellers to treat people like they’re in your home and you’re having a party. We greet people and make sure the customer is happy.”
Katrino Garcia, Target store manager, said the festivities started on Thanksgiving.
“Business has been really good,” he said. He said the store has increased its emphasis on online shopping, and offers a ship-to-store option.
“Electronics always sell out,” Garcia said.
What is the surprise of the year so far?
“Weighted blankets. It’s a surprise item — really big this year,” he said.