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Customers hunt deals at all hours
Thursday start thins Black Friday crowds
Shoppers at Target on Market Place Boulevard check out with their Black Friday finds. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Pollianna Evans was ready for a nap at 11 a.m. Friday.

Evans had been up since the wee hours of the morning in search of Black Friday deals.

“I’ve been to Target, Kohl’s, JC Penny, Belk twice, Parsons,” she said. “So now I’m ready to eat and go home.”

She said she started her odyssey about five hours earlier.

“But at 6 nobody was here,” she said of Target on Market Place Boulevard. “I think everybody went from like 8 [p.m.] to 2 this morning, and then people started coming back out around 9 this morning.”

Evans suspected the shift in timing for most shoppers has changed the last couple of years as more stores have started offering sales on Thanksgiving night.

As a morning person, Evans said she misses the sales that waited until Friday.

“I think coming at 2 or 4 o’clock in the morning is fun,” she said. “To me, that’s fun — getting a couple of hours of sleep [Thursday night] and then going to shop. I was too tired at 8 [Thursday night] to come.

“Opening Thanksgiving night has kind of taken some of the thrill out of it … it’s taken that excitement of everybody trying to get that certain item real quick.”

Anna Helmuth, an executive team member at Target, said many customers seemed to take a different view since many came out Thursday.

“We opened at 8 last night and last year we opened at 9 [p.m.] on Thanksgiving,” she said. “We had a lot of guests coming into the store last night. It was definitely busy.

“It seemed like there were more people here [Thursday night] than last year and we actually had people looking for groceries, which we’ve never really had before on Black Friday.”

Other customers were hitting Target and other stores in search of deals on electronics, clothing and toys for kids.

Bill Johnston brought his three children — Billy, 14; Julia, 12; and Brandon, 10 — out for a little shopping as a way to get some Christmas gift ideas.

“They’re just showing me stuff that they like and I’m getting some more ideas for Christmas,” Bill Johnston said. “The boys were showing me [some sporting goods items], and she wanted to come to Target.”

Unlike Evans, the Johnstons weren’t ready to shop too early.

“Does it really count as Black Friday shopping if you start at 10 a.m.?” Bill Johnston joked. “You usually have to be out and about by 6 a.m. for it to really be Black Friday shopping, right?”

Belinda Cansler got a later-than-normal start.

“I have been known to get up at 4 in the morning,” she said. “But I’m not going to do that anymore and I was too tired last night after Thanksgiving to shop then. I got started a little before 8 this morning.”

While she was primarily looking for great buys on gifts for her grandchildren, Cansler said she had also found bargains on other items.

“I have already bought something for myself,” she said with a sheepish grin. “But I got a great deal on it.”