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Crowds scour for big-day bargains
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Mike Blackstock, center, browses items among busy bargain shoppers Friday at Best Buy. The “busiest shopping day of the year” drew crowds to shopping centers in Forsyth County. - photo by Autumn Vetter

While some were warm in their beds after Thanksgiving’s feast, many were hitting the stores in hopes of finding great deals.

Hundreds of Forsyth County residents stayed up late Thursday, got up early Friday — or both — as they kicked off the official holiday shopping period on Black Friday.

The term refers to the potential impact on merchants. Friday and the rest of the weekend help businesses go from red, or unprofitable, to black, or profitable.

Like many retail areas, the Market Place Boulevard corridor was buzzing with shoppers in search of great deals.

Larry Wilkerson, manager of the Cumming Kohl’s, said about 750 people were waiting outside when his store opened at midnight.

“This year has been even busier than last year,” he said. “Every register in the store is running, and everyone on staff will work sometime today.”

Nearby Target also opened at midnight, something manager Steve Reid said was a first.

“Last year we opened at 4 a.m.,” he said. “We wanted to give people more options of when they wanted to shop.”

At midnight, he said, staffers were eager to help customers.

“We handed maps to show our guests where all the hot buys were and we gave them [protein] bars for energy,” he said. “We have to be ready because Black Friday has really become an event unto itself.”

Customers seemed in search of a variety of items Friday, many being electronics.

Mike Blackstock was looking for a camera.

“I dropped my wife off at the outlets [in Dawsonville] and came down here,” he said while looking over those on sale at Best Buy.

Outside the store, Francisco Figueroa loaded a giant television in the back of his truck.

“I waited 10 hours to get this TV,” he said. “I got here at 4 a.m.”

While the television was his major prize of the day, he said he also “got a bunch of other stuff.”

“I got four more TVs and three lap tops too,” he said.

At Target many customers were also shopping for electronics.

Joe and Amee Smart brought their sons Joseph, 4, and Noah, 6, in search of special items.

“We wanted to get a [video game system] for the boys and some movies,” Joe Smart said.

“There was a also a TV here that caught my eye,” added Amee Smart. “And we wanted to get some toys for the kids.”

Betty Gilbert said a toy sale at Kohl’s was a draw for her.

“The 50 percent off toys here was great,” she said, noting that she doesn’t usually shop on the day. “I don’t like fighting the crowds, but I’m here doing my mom’s shopping while she sits outside.”

Mother and daughter Phyllis and Linda Millican said shopping together after Thanksgiving is a tradition.

“We’ve been doing this for at least 20 to 30 years,” Linda Millican said. “I’ll be meeting my sister later too … I do mine and she does hers in the mornings and then we go together in the afternoon.”

Three generations were shopping together at Target.

Marilyn Long, daughter GiGi Thomas and granddaughter Kelley Bottinick were looking over electronics Friday.

Long said the store was just one of many stops they would make.

“Next I’m going to Belk and then The Avenue, although I’m really getting too old for this,” she said.  “We’ve gone shopping together on Black Friday for probably 15 or 16 years. That’s probably why I’m so tired.

“For us it’s not so much about the sales as it is the fun of being together.”

The family is probably an exception in that regard, since most shoppers seemed more excited about the prices.

“You can’t beat the deals on Black Friday,” Joe Smart said.