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Not Waiting For Black Friday, Some Shoppers Line Up On Thanksgiving Day

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This As nearly 60 shoppers gathered outside the Plainfield Township Kmart shortly before 7 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, store manager Pete Dunn huddled with his employees for a pep talk.

Match competitors prices, he told his 27 staff members. Move customers quickly through the check-out lane. And most importantly, smile.

"This is what we work for all year long people," Dunn said. "This is the turning point."

With that, the front doors were opened and dozens of deal-seeking customers rushed into the store for the start of the holiday shopping season, snatching up everything from Nintendo Wii gaming systems to digital cameras to stereo systems.

Many, such as Jody Fox, had spent hours waiting in line, to be sure they would get their hands on the perfect holiday gift.

"It's a good deal," Fox said, referring to a $348 32-inch TV-DVD player combo she had been waiting to purchase since 4 a.m. Kmart was "the only ones who had the right combination at the perfect price."

While Black Friday promises to lure far more people to retailers, holiday shopping on Thanksgiving was a way for some people to avoid big crowds and start early. Retailers including Kmart and Meijer lured customers with deals such as $299 high-definition TV sets and an iPod nano for $149.

"It's the only way I can afford to do it," said Lori Jordan, 48, of Rockford, who made the early morning trip to Kmart for a $69 GE digital camera. "I have seven kids. That's why I have to do this."

In many ways, the early morning shopping frenzy was a test of endurance.

Just ask Dean Maze, of Grand Rapids, who by 5:30 a.m. had been waiting in line at the Plainfield Avenue Meijer store since midnight to buy a 32-inch high-definition TV set.

"It's worth losing a few hours sleep over," Maze said. "I have a job, and it takes a long time to make $100."

At Meijer, demand was high for both the Wii Fit and the iPod nano, both of which sold out shortly after going on sale at 6 a.m., employees said.

Elnora Gale looked to be one of the unlucky ones. Even though she showed up at Meijer at 5:30 a.m., the line for the Wii Fit had already grown by at least 20 people and supplies were limited.

"I'll just wait," the 71-year-old Plainfield Township resident said. "I'm up and at em,' anyway."

Some shoppers, like Mike and Michelle Elwell of Grand Rapids, were happy to buy their holiday gifts before Black Friday, which has traditionally been a far more chaotic day of deal chasing.

"You don't get stomped on when you come through the door," Michelle Elwell said. "People are more chatty."

Still, Black Friday continues to be a big draw for cash-strapped consumers.

Dan Slauter, 18, and Adam Rought, 16, are spending Thanksgiving camped out in front of Best Buy on Alpine Avenue.

The two friends are trading in Thanksgiving dinner with family in favor of cashing in on deals on half-off laptop computers.

How do their parents feel about their holiday plans?

"They just told me 'I'm crazy,'" said Slauter, of Kent City. "They just don't get the good deals we're getting."

Read more stories Moms Are Talking About.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
angie November 27, 2009, 7:28 AM

This actually makes me sick to my stomach. The number one thing at Christmas is NOT about frickin giving presents and to stand in line on Thanksgiving morning to steal a deal is pathetic. Raise your kids knowing the real reason for Christmas and you won’t feel the need to buy big expensive presents- and on Thanksgiving day at that! One more little side note while I am on it- like this woman says about having seven kids and needing to find deals yadda yadda- there are such things as birth control methods, use them!

SaraJ December 5, 2009, 1:14 AM

I agree with Angie that it’s just wrong to have the sales on Thanksgiving. I was complaining that the only stores that should be open were possibly grocery stores for limited hours and pharmacy stores (in case people need meds). I didn’t even look through any of the TH only deals. I threw the ads in the recycling bin because I would rather spend my time with family on Thanksgiving!!! (although I was up shopping from 12am-9am on Black Friday:D)

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