Now, It’s A Marathon

‘Black Friday’ Puts Premium On Local Customers’ Endurance

Posted: November 24, 2012

Black Friday shoppers snake through the checkout lines at the Harrisonburg Kmart. (Photos by Stephen Mitchell)
Autumn Slifer, 12, and Cathy Slifer of Broadway shop for DVDs at Kmart. Cathy said the pair were looking for good deals, but had nothing specific in mind.
Stacey Burner, of Stanley, checks out a toy during her Black Friday shopping at Kmart.
HARRISONBURG — Crystal Hinkle woke up early Thursday for what may become her new Thanksgiving normal: a two-day shopping spree, while supplies of energy last.

The Mount Jackson resident’s 30-hour-plus itinerary through Black Friday afternoon reads like a NASCAR vehicle: Kmart, CVS, Big Lots, two Walmarts (in Front Royal and Woodstock), JC Penney and Super Shoes, plus a few other businesses.

Hinkle, 32, sprinkled in a Thanksgiving meal Thursday afternoon and about four hours of sleep early Friday morning.

“It’s kind of a big rush when you first get there,” she said of getting to stores early.

That encapsulates Black Friday, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, for many. And while shoppers had a head start on deals Thursday because big-box stores opened a day early, “doorbuster” sales still led to the traditional feeding frenzy on Friday.

Black Friday is meant to bring revenues into the positive, or “black,” figures. Stores, in turn, offer an array of deals during hours in which only paperboys would normally clog up the roads.

On Friday, long lines formed outside numerous stores and shopping centers in Harrisonburg, including Valley Mall and Kohl’s, before they opened at midnight. Even the state-run liquor stores got in on the act, opening at 9 a.m. and featuring marked-down prices on select merchandise into the afternoon.

Lengthy lines were not reported locally at those stores, however.

Kmart opened in three shifts for the first time: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday; and once again at 5 a.m. Friday, when “doorbusters” lasted until 11 a.m.

About 400 people were in line for the 6 a.m. event Thursday, and another 80 at 5 a.m. Friday, manager Donald Jarrels said.

“It’s been a constant, steady flow, which is just as good as having a crowd,” he said as shoppers filed in at about 11 a.m. Friday.

Jarrels said he did not say “a whole lot” to employees during the middle shift because so much work had to be done for the final opening.

“Now, we know [what it takes],” he said. “It was a learning experience.”

‘Crazy’ Fun

As usual on Black Friday, shoppers were after electronics, particularly televisions, and toys, Jarrels said. Ladies’ boots, a marked-down griddle and animal-print blankets were also hot items, he added.

Stanley resident Stacey Burner, 27, found the toy she was looking for at Kmart: the Terrain Twister from Hot Wheels, a vehicle that can apparently trek through all types of surfaces.

“Every place has been sold out,” she said.

Burner came to the city department store Friday morning after some rest. She went to Luray’s Walmart when it opened earlier in the day.

“It was crazy,” she said, before adding that she had a “blast.”

Patty Campbell, 60, of Mount Sidney, said Black Friday is fun because it’s a chance to be out with so many people. She brought a friend from Craigsville to the mall and other Harrisonburg locations.

“This is a girls’ trip,” Campbell said.

Yet, that’s not to say men cannot partake in the festivities. Although, when they do, they are likely to be more in line with Newton Gillespie, 56, of Waynesboro.

He said his name was “Dog” on Friday because he was in the doghouse with his wife, Sherree, 54.

The couple, though, planned a relaxing day, because they were not out looking for as many deals as possible. Instead, they were just shopping together on a day off.

“We don’t like crowds,” Mrs. Gillespie said.

Around 10:30 a.m. at the mall, the couple picked the right time because, in the playful words of another shopper, “5 a.m. is for suckers.”

“This is the time,” said that shopper, Joe Thornburg, 29, from Philadelphia, “The early guys, they [go home and] crash hard. This is the ideal time.”

Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or pknight@dnronline.com