Thanksgiving is a day of abundance, tasty food and being with family and friends — but it also marks the first leg of a three-day binge for dedicated discount-hunting Black Friday shoppers.
“We’ve been here since midnight,” said Colleen Woodsid. Mrs. Woodsid, Alicia Passage, and Kylie Rasmussen were at the front of a line of more than 100 people waiting to enter Kmart on Thursday when the doors opened at 6 a.m. Mrs. Rasmussen said they made the trip from Carthage when she got a call from a friend saying there were already 30 people in line outside the door, but when they arrived there was no one.
She wasn’t sure if it was the cold weather that drove people in line away or if her friend was mistaken. In any case, the three women stayed and waited out in their car until the line began to build in advance of the store’s opening.
Mrs. Passage said she has been coming to Kmart and doing Thanksgiving shopping for more than 30 years. On Thursday morning she was in hot pursuit of tablets for $30, bedding, hunting gear, slippers, jeans, Christmas pajamas for kids and family, toys and Christmas decorations.
“I do it to beat the Thanksgiving crowd. We have a three-day haul and I break it down into lists of the things we want and the stores,” said Mrs. Passage. “We’ll be back tonight because of the pots and pans.”
As far as a meal with a turkey and all the trimmings, Mrs. Passage said she schedules her holiday dinner for the Saturday after Thanksgiving every year.
Mrs. Rasmussen said she has been going with her mom for the three-day Black Friday shopping spree since she was 15 years old.
“I’ve been doing this 11 years and people can get crazy,” said Mrs. Rasmussen. “Some people will try and snatch stuff out of your carts, and I learned you’ve got to be mean about it.”
For the past 17 years, Sandra Floetenmeyer, associate manager at Big Lots, Watertown, has been working the Thanksgiving shift. And although things tend to get hectic during the year’s busiest shopping weekend, Mrs. Floetenmeyer and her staff make an effort to stay upbeat.
“It gets busy. You get swamped at times, but we try to have fun,” she said. “It’s a party.”
Mary M. Dyer and her fiance, Christopher R. Bucher of Chaumont, were second in line at Kmart on Thursday morning. Miss Dyer and Mr. Bucher said they came with one mission when they headed for Kmart: a 46-inch flat-screen television. Mr. Bucher said they are going to get married this summer and want the television for when they get a new place to live.
“This morning has been very calm, we got the first TV and there wasn’t a mad rush,” said Mr. Bucher.
Sarah Coates, who traveled from Ottawa just for the Black Friday sales, said on Thursday morning everything seemed calm and people were being very respectful, but that hasn’t always been the case.
“Last year six fights broke out in Walmart in the toy department,” said Ms. Coates. “Not a good lesson for kids.”
Another year, she said a man took his shopping cart and grabbed armfuls of DVDs and then left the aisle. She said he went to another aisle and browsed through the DVDs in his cart. After picking out the ones he wanted, she said he abandoned the shopping cart and left.
Ms. Coates said that when shopping during the Black Friday sales, the inexperienced shopper misses out on the deals.
“You can’t browse shop; you have to have a plan and know where you’re going,” said Ms. Coates.
One strategy of Black Friday shopping, Ms. Coates said is, to have one person get in line with a cart and have everyone else grab what they need and bring it to the cart when the lines get long.
“I get a kick out of watching people in line,” said Ms. Coates. “They get feisty.”
“This is why you do it — it gives you an adrenaline rush and also gets you in the Christmas spirit,” said Mrs. Passage. “This is where you save money with a big family.”
Near the very front of a massive line that wrapped around Watertown’s Target store was Susan Lawrence, Kingston, who had been patiently waiting — despite the snow and sub-freezing temperatures — since 12:30 a.m. to take advantage of electronics deals that cannot be found in Canada.
“It’s the price and variety. And our Thanksgiving was a month ago,” she said, referring to Canadian Thanksgiving, which is held on the second Monday of October.
Robert Hall, Theresa, said he came to buy a 40-inch television that was on sale at Target Thursday for $119.
He had been waiting in line for five hours, but said the savings are well worth the time invested.
“This is better than waiting in line at 4, 5 in the morning on a Friday,” he said.
Times staff writer Jaegun Lee contributed to this report.
By Katherine Clark Ross, Times Staff Writer