Thanksgiving becomes ‘Black Thursday’

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 29, 2013

SALISBURY — This Thanksgiving, if you had wanted, you could have literally shopped from dawn to dusk in Salisbury.
Stores big and small drew customers by the hundreds with giveaways and specials.
Kmart on East Innes Street opened its doors at 6 a.m. for what staff said would be a total of 41 hours of selling over the holiday weekend.
The store was slated to stay open until Friday at 11 p.m., and reopen Saturday at 6 a.m.
Assistant Manager Jon Oates said workers at Kmart would be taken care of. “We’re going to feed our associates a good Thanksgiving dinner,” he said.
According to one Kmart staff member, whose name tag identified her as Kathleen, 96 customers came through the door at 6 a.m. Thursday.
Oates didn’t give a number, but said it was “a good crowd.”
“The biggest reason we’re opening (on Thanksgiving) is because of customer feedback,” Oates said.
He said customers had told Kmart that they wanted more sales spread over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Tablet computers were the biggest draw, Kmart staff said.
By midmorning, a steady stream of customers could be seen coming into the store, many buying toys and electronics.
LaTonya Neely, of Salisbury, said she got most of her Christmas shopping done.
“I got my son a Crayola Marker Airbrush, a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot game, an air powered hockey game,” Neely said, as she and a staff member pushed two carts out to the parking lot.
“I’ve been going out on Black Friday with my mom for years,” Neely said. “You usually get everything at Thanksgiving cheaper.”
She said she also usually goes to Walmart every year, but said she still has time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Others were shopping out of necessity.
“I burnt up my mixer last night trying to make a cake for my son,” said Robin Bradley, of Salisbury.
She got a replacement at Kmart, and also said she got “a little bit of shopping done. Got some gifts for my nieces.”
Next door, the Big Lots store had also opened early, at 7 a.m.
“It’s been a busy morning,” said Jennifer, manager of the Big Lots store. She declined to give her last name.
Jennifer said she couldn’t comment in detail without permission from the corporate office, but said the store “was extremely busy” when it opened at 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving.
Recliners had been the biggest seller, Jennifer said.
At Old Navy, the store manager also declined to comment due to corporate policy.
An Old Navy staff member, who asked not to be named, said there had been no line outside their store when it opened.
Very few customers could be seen inside.
“It’s Thanksgiving day, there are no door busters,” the staff member said.
There was a bigger crowd at the Dollar Tree store next door, which was scheduled to be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Although there were plenty of Christmas decorations and gifts on offer, Bri, the manager on duty, said most of her customers weren’t shopping for gifts.
“They’re buying what they need to finish Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.
That night, at the Wallace Commons shopping center, the parking lot was already nearly full by 7:50 p.m.
Belk opened at 8 p.m., as did other stores in the complex, all with long lines leading to the doors.
The Michael’s craft store was already open, with quite a few customers visible inside.
The line to enter Belk stretched all the way past Michael’s to the end of the row of buildings, then out into the parking lot.
At the head of the line was a woman whose name was ironically appropriate: Patience Joaquim,
“Us three’s been here since 4 (p.m.),” Joaquim said, motioning to her daughter, Heaven, and boyfriend Michael Snyder.
Other family members had joined them. The group, and other customers, hoped to win a $1,000 Belk gift card in a door prize giveaway.
The girls in the group had Christmas wishes in mind.
For Christen Cox, “Clothes that fit, ‘cause I’m outgrowing everything!”
And for Heaven, the desire was footwear: “Sperry’s and boots,” she said.
“Red cowgirl boots,” Patience added.
Those further back in the line were in a generally good mood, laughing and smiling.
At the back of the line, Stephanie and Nick Palmore, of Cleveland, were bundled up in coats against the night chill.
“It’s not surprising,” said Stephanie Palmore, when asked about the length of the line. They arrived moments before the doors opened.
The Palmores said they came to shop for clothes for their daughter, “nothing in particular. We’re not out for any major bargains.”
By the time they had finished talking, 10 more people had joined the end of the line behind them, and cars were still pulling in.
Hugging herself to keep from shivering, Sone Chamnangam said she hadn’t expected the line to be that long.
She said she hoped to buy boots and a purse.
“Hopefully there’s some left for us!” Chamnangam said, as she, her niece and other family members followed the long line up towards the door.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.