Shoppers head to the stores Thanksgiving night

Old Navy cashiers Sadie J. Boshert, center, and Samantha L. Deal, right, check out customers Thursday night. Justin Sorensen / Watertown Daily Times

Old Navy cashiers Sadie J. Boshert, center, and Samantha L. Deal, right, check out customers Thursday night. Justin Sorensen / Watertown Daily Times

As turkey dinners and family gatherings wrapped up on Thursday, shoppers took to their cars and drove into the cold Watertown night. There were deals to chase.

Big box retailers including Walmart, Target and Kohl’s as well as the major stores in the Salmon Run Mall kicked off their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving evening. Discounts led shoppers to pack the stores, and many people planned an all-night bargain-hunting blitz. At Best Buy in the mall, more than 100 stood in line during the final hour before the store opened at 6 p.m.

Javier Morales, of Fort Drum, said he was expecting a rush of people as he pursued a television and Playstation 4 with his friends Joshua A. Olson, Evans Mills, and Aaron Gutierrez, Fort Drum.

“I’ve been playing Madden,” he said, referring to the popular football video game. “A couple spins, jumps, no problem.”

Many of those shopping at Best Buy and other Watertown department stores Thursday night were Canadians who traveled south for lower prices.

William Hughes, who came from Kingston, Ontario, to shop for computer gear such as monitors, said he could save as much as 35 percent by making the trip to Watertown.

“We know what the prices are at home, and we know what the prices are down here,” he said.

Immediately behind him in line, Linda M. March interjected that she planned to go back to Ottawa with a car full of purchases.

“You’ve got to go somewhere to get a good deal,” she said.

As Best Buy opened, customers entered in staggered groups of 20.

Store general manager Dannielle M. Richardson said safety was key, as she directed customers toward televisions, computers and video games.

Stocking for the weekend was a process months in the making. Now that the big night was finally here, “it really is controlled chaos,” she said.

Among the bargain hunters were Narayan Poudyal and Sudeep Khadka, of Fort Drum. The pair said they saved about $500 in buying two computers and a television.

“We found the deal,” Mr. Poudyal said.

Many families could be seen shopping together.

Waiting in line before the 8 p.m. opening at Target, Theresa S. Thilges and her son Andrew, 14, both of Watertown, said they made their decision to shop over dinner.

“This is fun, too,” she said. “We can talk about the year we lost our toes.”

Over at Walmart, Kristy M. Perez of Watertown left the store with her mother, Carol A. Graveline, and daughter Hannah C., 13, with bags of items.

“I’ve got my family here,” she said. The three had a few more stores to hit before the end of the night, she said.

However, not every shopper was enthusiastic about the chilly wait.

Tammy Clark of Adams Center said she thought the timing was a little early, as she waited about two hours before the 8 p.m. opening of Target. She said she preferred the early Friday morning shopping, which affords time for a little sleep.

“I’m not excited about it, but I’m here,” she said. Ms. Clark and her daughter Amanda A. Pike said they were looking for a deal on a Keurig coffee maker and a Shark Mop steam cleaner, and by shopping Thursday they expected to save up to $150.

Was it worth the cold? “With the amount of money you save, yes,” Ms. Clark said.

The holiday all-night shopping was a family affair, with relatives spread throughout multiple stores, Ms. Clark said. Her other planned stops included Kohls, Sears, Bon-Ton and J.C. Penney, where she hoped to purchase a globe available only after 4 a.m.

Many stores are scheduled to remain open through late tonight.

-Gordon Block, Watertown Daily Times