Lines long as locals seek early bargains




As someone counted down, "5,4,3,2,1," over the intercom at Sears Thursday night, an associate in the jewelry department let out a small scream, laughed and shouted, "Don't do it," but to no avail.

The front doors were opened and steady stream of people made their way rapidly into the store — most heading for the electronics department — to take advantage of Black Thursday bargains.

Lori Belton, apparel manager at Sears, said that the shift from Black Friday to Black Thursday has resulted in a far different approach toward the biggest shopping day of the season.

"It's a little bit different this year because of the 8 p.m. opening, so it's totally different. We've never done this before, so we usually open up at 4 a.m. in the morning, so now it's just trying to figure out different shifts, how we stretch people out and accommodate all the customers and maintaining all those hours," she said.

Belton, who recently moved to Garden City from Manhattan, has been a Sears employee for 33 years and said that Black Fridays are historically a little crazy.

"Usually, it's pretty chaotic and you know we've got the long line out here. Most of them are here for electronics and appliances, so it will be interesting to see how they get to that side of the store," she said and laughed.

Sears General Manager Lee Webb said that besides beginning the sale on Thanksgiving night, it was pretty typical of years prior.

"Tonight will be electronics, and tomorrow will be tools and apparel. That's usually how it goes. The early birds are electronics, and then everyone else comes along," he said.

The line to get in wrapped around the corner of the building.

James Kerzmann, Goldston, N.C., and his brother-in-law Bradley White, Washington, Mo., were at the front of the line.

"We were the first ones here," White said.

"We've been here since about noon," Kerzmann said.

The men were there to purchase a rather large Christmas gift for Kerzmann's parents.

"It's a fridge that my parents want. They only have two in stock," adding that the refrigerator's price was slashed from about $2,500 to $1,300.

Directly behind them were Tuan Diep, Garden City, and Brenda Thomas, Cimarron.

"He's been here since about 1 or 2. She's been here since 3," Kerzmann said of his fellow bargain hunters.

"We're here for TVs — the big kind. The 50-inch is normally $900, and they have it for $300," Thomas said.

Prior to the door's opening, the early birds were rewarded with vouchers that guaranteed their getting the item they wanted.

"What we're doing is for the first in line, we're handing out tickets for the different items we have limited quantities of. We still have more stuff in there, but we're just trying to make it organized because as you can see, we have a really big line, so we want people to kind of know if they have that ticket, it's a voucher that guarantees that they'll get the item. If they don't have it, there's still a chance they could get it. We're going to order until the warehouse is done," Webb said Thursday night. "And we're going to do the same thing again at 4 a.m. because we had two door busters, 8 p.m. and then we're doing 4 a.m. door busters."

Joe Walker, manager of loss prevention at Sears, said that the vouchers also were a means of maintaining some order.

"Yeah, we just don't want everybody running to get to that one spot where it's going to be at, so the people who have been here all day in line need to have first-come, first-serve. You know, I don't want somebody way back there going all the way and just grabbing something when these people have been standing here for hours, so that's pretty much what they're doing," Walker said.

Both Target and Walmart also were open for Black Thursday. While Walmart operated under regular business hours prior to starting its sale at 8 p.m., customers were seen standing next to the products they wanted to purchase during the sale, hours beforehand.

Target, on the other hand, didn't open its doors until 9 p.m. And despite the dropping temperatures, the line there wrapped around the west side of the building.

Leslie Perez, Holcomb, arrived at Target at 6 p.m. and did her best to keep warm as she waited for the doors to open. Perez said that she was there to purchase a Christmas gift for her daughter. Not wanting to ruin the surprise, she said the gift was an electronics item.

"It will let her know that mama's freezing for her," she said, laughing.

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