News From Terre Haute, Indiana


November 28, 2013

The prelude to Black Friday

Thanksgiving no longer a day of rest before holiday shopping blitz

TERRE HAUTE — There’s always been a Thanksgiving meal, but now, there’s also Thanksgiving shopping.

Store closings on Thanksgiving seemed to be a thing of the past as many people flocked to retail stores — some opened as early as 6 a.m. — on Thursday to jump start their holiday shopping.

Huge crowds gathered in front of entrances at Honey Creek Mall in Terre Haute, just in time for the mall’s Thanksgiving day opening at 8 p.m.

After the doors were opened at JCPenney, people rushed through the aisles to pick up merchandise. Some filled their hands and arms with items in a matter of seconds.

Although many shoppers picked up pillows — some four at a time — one shopper, Heather Bobbitt, joined a number of people who headed straight to the shoe department.

“I knew what I wanted,” she said of the boots that she later took to the cashier to pay.

JCPenney joined many retailers this year that decided to open on Thanksgiving.

In addition to staying competitive with other big retailers, “it gives everybody a chance to have a good Thanksgiving dinner and ... instead of staying at home ... come out and shop,” said store leader Dawn Butler, as she directed people inside the store.

But just because people already shopped on Thanksgiving Thursday doesn’t mean they will no longer shop on Black Friday.

“We anticipate another big flow of people” during the Black Friday morning sales and throughout the day, Butler said.

And the store had food available for its employees as they worked, Butler added.

Many people rushed for deals inside the mall but others actually shopped much earlier.

During the early afternoon, members of a family of three looked perfectly relaxed as they perused the aisles at Kmart on South U.S. 41.

“We’re glad that they’re open,” Hillary Fitzpatrick said.

As she pushed a cart filled with toys and clothes, Hillary pointed out one major advantage of her decision to shop early.

“They’re not as packed because everybody’s ... at home,” she said.

She beat the crowds and hoped for deals.

“I think it’s great to be able to beat everybody before Black Friday,” she said.

Hillary was accompanied by her husband, Alan, and daughter, Lily, who is almost a year old.

As the family walked through an aisle with toys, a mega dart caught Alan’s attention.

“It’s for Ethan, of course,” he said referring to his son, who was not there for the shopping trip. It was a nice family activity on Thanksgiving day, Hillary said, because they had already celebrated Thanksgiving a week before.

The visit to the retail store kicked off the family’s holiday shopping, and they hoped to visit other retail stores later in the day.

“I want to get it all done in one day,” Alan said of holiday shopping as he smiled.

And Hillary was prepared.

Like many others, she has been “pre-shopping” online. She checked out ads and prices to prepare for the trip.

Shopping online itself was another alternative for people on Thanksgiving.

Retail stores such as Best Buy and JC Penney sent emails to customers reminding them that they can shop online on Thanksgiving Day, even before the stores opened.

“Psst...Black Friday starts NOW online,” a JC Penney email stated.

Best Buy’s email told customers to “Grab Doorbuster deals online now.”

Thanksgiving in-store and online shopping may be relatively new, but one Black Friday shopping tradition was seen alive and well on Thanksgiving Day: standing in line hours before stores opened.

About two and a half hours before Best Buy opened, about 25 people braved the cold to wait for the store’s 6 p.m. opening.

At the front of the line was Alex Berry and his younger sister, Elizabeth. They had been outside the store, on Terre Haute’s south side, since 10 a.m.

They were waiting to buy a Windows tablet.

“It’s very important. I’m buying it with my own money that I worked for,” said 16-year-old Elizabeth. “I’m saving $150,” with the deal.

The experience of waiting in line and shopping Black Friday deals was new to Elizabeth, so Alex went along.

“I’m here supporting her,” he said.

But they still found the opportunity to stay true to the holiday spirit.

“We’re spending family quality time,” Alex said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299.

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