By Jennifer Phonexayphova
Killeen Daily Herald
The early bird catches the worm – and many area residents, with bellies still full from turkey and stuffing, aroused from their warm beds, bundled up, and headed out to the stores before the crack of dawn Friday to take advantage of Black Friday sales.
Some were so intent on getting door-buster deals, they chose to forfeit a traditional Thanksgiving at home for a spot in line at Best Buy. Kelly Rediske, Beth Tierney O'Brian and Louis Wagner, all local residents, did just that, arriving with their lawn chairs to start the line around 7 a.m. Thursday morning.
"We took shifts with food and had turkey and stuffing and squash, and we had family members coming back and forth," Rediske said.
She said the slashed prices were what brought them to the store. They also were able to score a coveted voucher for drastically reduced computers, something many in line were hoping to get.
"I enjoyed sitting in the sun all day yesterday and relaxing, reading a book. I didn't have to cook or do dishes. It was the best Thanksgiving ever," O'Brian joked.
With all the new computers, cameras, iPods and gaming systems out this season at reduced prices, most shoppers concentrated on picking up electronics during Black Friday shopping. More than 500 people formed a line that snaked through the parking lot at Best Buy, hoping to corral major deals. About 40 people down the line, Mark Smith, from Allen, just north of Dallas, said he arrived in line around 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving to buy a desktop computer and a MP3 player.
"If you don't get here early, you're not going to get what you want," he said.
Many disappointed latecomers proved Smith's theory, arriving at 5 a.m. as the store opened only to watch that people in line were slowly let in, one at a time.
On time at Target
At 6 a.m., Target opened its doors. Even though the store was not offering any early bird special sales, people were lined up since midnight to get in.
Abby Crowder, a Target executive team leader, said all employees were called in to work Friday, most arriving around 4 a.m.
"I think we're expecting a bigger crowd this year, especially with the return of the 4th ID right now," she said. "We also have new merchandise and marketing that always brings people in."
Like a coach prepping the team for a big game, Store Manager Chandra Barton huddled her team of workers together and briefed them on the long day ahead prior to opening the store. They are anticipating making a week's worth of profit in one day, or around $400,000, Crowder said.
The International Council of Shopping Centers predicts this year sales will increase by 4.8 percent at major shopping centers.
As soon as the doors opened, people waiting in a line of about 200 made a mad dash to departments, flyers in hand, some not even wasting time to pick up a cart. Within 15 minutes of the store's opening, the checkout lines were already jam-packed and quickly snaking down the aisle. The toys and electronics sections were heavily congested with cart-pushing shoppers on a mission. People's arms were filled with Cabbage Patch dolls, cameras, Legos and iPod accessories.
Another huge seller was a 19-inch thin LCD television selling for $179. Without hesitation, people were approaching the display and picking up two at a time. A store worker said they started with around 50 televisions, and half of them were gone in the first 45 minutes.
Also selling like hotcakes was the V Audio Rocker – a chair with built-in surround sound for gaming systems that was selling for half of the original price.
As soon as the chairs were put on the sales floor, groups of shoppers hovered around the employee as she broke the box and began tossing them out to eager hands. Penny Kidwell, a Killeen resident, was able to get one of the chairs, something her son had on his wish list this year.
The Killeen Mall opened later to shoppers who were camped in front of stores, waiting in anticipation. Charlene Capps, who had been there since 5 a.m., sat in front of Deb's, where she said clothing items were reduced almost 75 percent.
Some stores opened earlier, such as Radio Shack. Store Manager Peter Latimer said people were lined up at the door, and the most popular item that was quickly sold out was the Bluetooth headset, which was 80 percent off the original price. Latimer also said they were expecting sales to rise this year because of the troops heading home.
By 7:30 a.m., Angie Taylor, a Killeen resident, already was calling it a day. Her last stop was Radio Shack, where she hoped to buy a mini camcorder but found it was already sold out. She had hit three stores prior to that time and managed to get the No. 1 item on her list at Circuit City, a portable DVD player.
"You just have to pick and choose," she said.
In spite of the long lines at Best Buy or the controlled chaos at Target, customers managed to remain polite to one another and even joked with each other as they shopped side by side, or elbow to elbow, for items on their lists. And the workers, who had been up as early as 3 a.m. to work a full day, were still upbeat and friendly.
Contact Jennifer Phonexayphova at email@example.com.
What is Black Friday?
Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest retail shopping day of the year and marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Retailers usually open early and entice customers with discounts and savings not found any other time of the year. While it may be the busiest shopping day, it typically isn't the highest yielding in sales, due to the dramatic discounting.
Did you know?
The term Black Friday is based on common accounting practices of using red ink to show negative amounts and black ink that show positive amounts. Black Friday is the beginning of the period where retailers would no longer have losses, the red, and instead take in the year's profits, the black.