Every year customers brave huge lines and early-morning openings to take advantage of Black Friday deals. However, this year more stores decided to make their deals available to customers before the big day to cut down on the craziness of one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Walmart was one of a few chains that offered deals beginning at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Two more waves of deals started at 10 p.m. that night and at 5 a.m. Friday.
From 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, Walmart stores guaranteed the availability of three large ticket items: an Emerson 32-inch TV for $148, an Apple iPad 2 for $399 with a $75 gift card and an LG blu-ray player for $38. The customers were allowed to purchase a guarantee card, promising that the item would be shipped to the store before Christmas if it ran out.
Customers also waited in line to get tickets for items rather than the items themselves. A Walmart associate said the intent was to “cut down on the ‘I was here first’” quarrels that happen every year.
Target stores also opened early, at 9 p.m. Thursday, and had coupons in their fliers starting on Nov. 18 guaranteeing the price of highly desired items including Dyson vacuum cleaners, Vizio TVs, Hot Wheels toys and accessories for Apple’s iPods.
Starting Thanksgiving morning, Best Buy had all of its movie and TV seasons available online with free shipping.
When the shrink wrap came off the displays of items at 8 p.m. at Walmart, many people who were standing near the items helped pass them to other customers who were out of reach. Despite the obvious anxiety and energy around some products, people seemed to respect others and maintain civility.
Best Buy didn’t open until midnight Thursday, but people were camped out at the Manhattan store well before it opened. Mason Wilbourn, 18, got to Best Buy Wednesday night at 8 p.m. and sat there until 3 a.m. when his brother got sick. He took him home and came back at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving Day.
He was the first person in line waiting to get a Lenovo laptop for $187.99.
“I’ll do anything for a good deal,” Wilbourn said.
He said last year he got punched while trying to get a bargain television at Walmart. This year he was camped out solo, but his family delivered him Thanksgiving dinner.
“My parents are really happy because I’m saving a lot of money,” he said.
Drake Amtower was second in line at Best Buy and had been there since 9:30 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. He was waiting to get the 40-inch LCD Toshiba TV and the Samsung Tablet among other Black Friday deals.
“I expect to save over $700. It’s worth skipping Thanksgiving dinner,” Amtower said.
At 4 p.m., Stacey Rucker was at the end of the line, having gotten to Best Buy at 3:45 p.m. She and her family had already had their Thanksgiving dinner.
“I really liked when Best Buy went to a midnight opening. . . I’ve been doing this for five or six years now,” she said.
Like Rucker, many people in line said they had worked their Thanksgiving dinners around the shopping day with no remorse for the loss of the traditional meal.