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Black Friday bargains bring masses

By Shelley Smithssmith@salisburypost.com
Thousands of people fought the crowds in Salisbury on Black Friday, with the first sale beginning at Old Navy at 3 a.m.
Myra Price and her husband were two of the first 50 people in line outside of Old Navy, hoping to get deals for their three children. With fleece jackets and winter coats in hands, the Prices said they looked forward to the Black Friday sales because they cannot afford to pay full price for the items.
Price’s husband was laid off from Freightliner last March.
“The kids didn’t get winter coats last year,” said Price. “We couldn’t afford it. We can barely afford it this year.
“They definitely got the ‘needs versus wants’ talk this year. And for the past two years we’ve told them that, because of the economy, we have to help Santa out with money for presents.”
Kim Austin and her daughter drove to Salisbury from Concord to avoid the masses.
“We didn’t want to fight the crowds at Concord Mills and didn’t want to go through the entire mall to get to Old Navy,” Austin said.
Austin said she and her daughter went to bed around 7:30 p.m. Thursday and woke up at 1 a.m.
“We’re not really getting gifts, just stuff for ourselves. We couldn’t pass up the $15 jeans.”
Although “door buster” sale items ó the most deeply discounted products used to lure shoppers in on Black Friday ó could not be purchased before 5 a.m. at Walmart, the store let shoppers bring their own chairs and camp out in front of the things they wanted. Some came nearly five hours early.
“We came for the laptop,” said Curtis Brinkley of China Grove. “I’m a first-time shopper for Black Friday, and it’s cutting into my hunting time.”
Brinkley brought three others with him to wait in line at other spots. He was able to go ahead and get some of the sale items he wanted, though, and take them to the laptop line.
“I got the sale stuff at 12 a.m., and once more and more people starting coming in, the staff here has started guarding it,” Brinkley said.
Walmart gave tickets for sale items to people waiting in line. They also gave out 15-minute bathroom passes. If shoppers took longer than 15 minutes, however, they lost their spot in line, and their sale ticket.
“It’s a little ridiculous,” said Brinkley.
Walmart made the changes nationwide this year after a security guard at a New York store was trampled to death last year by a crowd pushing to get to sale items when the store opened on Black Friday.
Tyler Hall came to Walmart with Brinkley, but didn’t leave with anything.
“I just came to watch the people and see how they act around the sales,” he said.
Bradley Mullins, of Thomasville, waited in line for more than two hours for the game system Rock Band. It was on sale for $50.
“It’s usually about $175,” Mullins said. “There’s not enough for everyone here in this line. If I don’t get one I’m not worried. But there are other crazy people in this line that are thinking ‘I’m going to get one or else.’ ”
Mullins came to the Salisbury Walmart instead of going to the one in Thomasville because, he said, “Thomasville and Lexington are a little bit more crowded.”
Kirt Casper, of Salisbury, waited longer than two hours for a Nintendo DS.
“This is the first and last time,” he said. “This is just insane.
“Regardless of the organization that Walmart has planned, people are still lingering around boxes and slipping into the lines. They keep changing their quantity limit.
“If I don’t come home with a pink one (Nintendo DS), my daughter’s going to kill me.”
Salisbury Police Officer V.A. Ruth monitored the front of the store, close to the registers. It was his fifth Black Friday at Walmart.
“Normally, everything on the palettes are wrapped in plastic and cut at 5 a.m.,” he said.
In years past, when the employees went to cut the plastic, everyone went crazy.
“Someone will put the item in their buggy, and then someone will snatch it out of their buggy and put it into their own,” Ruth said.
This year, he noted, store staff cut the plastic earlier.
“Walmart changed a lot of its policies after the boy got run over in New York.”
Ruth said that he was one of six Salisbury police officers in Walmart, and that the crowd this year was close in size to last year’s.
As of 2:30 p.m. Friday, Old Navy reported that 3,000 had already walked through the doors.
“The customers were hitting right where we expected they would,” said Brittany Dille, Old Navy leader on duty. “Everything went pretty well.”
When asked what kind of pep talk employees received before they opened the doors, an employee at Old Navy said, “We were just told to hold our composure. And smile.”
Walmart handed each customer maps of the store, locating key areas such as electronics and toys. As of 5 a.m., Walmart had run out of shopping carts and Walmart shoppers were parking as far away at Kmart on Innes Street.
 

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