Gray Thursday/Black Friday

Crowds fill stores on Thanksgiving

by Clay Neely

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The iPad mini proves to be a popular item at Walmart Thanksgiving night.

Hundreds of shoppers braved the cold all over Newnan, waiting over 19 hours in some cases, just to be the first in line at several retailers on Thanksgiving.

With shoppers wrapped around the building, Best Buy opened their doors to the public at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night for a marathon shopping experience that had the store staying open for the next 28 hours, closing their doors on Friday evening at 10 p.m.

Casey Deridder of Newnan had been outside Best Buy since 11 p.m. Wednesday.

“The iPad 2. I’m just here to get it and go” said Deridder. “Not planning on doing any other shopping. I’m ready to go home.”

“I’ve been here since 9 a.m.” said Jacob Wolf of Newnan. “Here for the Galaxy S4. It’s a free phone and I’m going to need accessories as well.”

Meanwhile, Linda Brown was all smiles as she had her definitive Christmas shopping list ready in her hand as she waited for the doors to open.

“Let’s see — Kindle Fire, Galaxy Tab 3, Apple TV, PS3 games — I could keep going” she said. “I’ve been here since 10 a.m. but it hasn’t been too bad. Just talking and meeting new people, trying to keep warm but I can’t wait to get inside. I’m getting my Christmas shopping all done right here, right now.”

Best Buy said they would allow 50 people in the store at a time to avoid the mad dash of customers.

“Black Friday, we’re ready,” said Jeremy Crew, general manager of Best Buy. “There’re a lot of hot items. I talked to some of the folks in line, looks like many are looking for the Kindle Fire, Surface Tablets, the 39” TV’s that are flying out already. The prices we have are good until the end of the day Saturday. It’s just limited quantities. We don’t close for 28 hours, and some of us will be here for most of the time. Everyone is working two shifts so they get to go home and get some sleep.”

Wykeisha Gates, back office lead for Best Buy, commented on how smooth she believes the entire process is.

“The ticket process is really helpful. We have tickets for how many items we have in stock so we give them to the people outside in line, so we don’t have to worry about people coming in and bum-rushing. If we run out of tickets, we can let everyone still waiting know in advance — so if that’s what they’re waiting for, they can decide to leave or stick around” said Gates.

And how does she feel about working from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m, especially on Thanksgiving?

“I really don’t mind, I’m used to it. It’s a rush.”

Donna Bagley came from LaGrange to secure a GoPro HD camcorder. “I got here at 3:45 this afternoon and paid only $249.99. I saved $100.”

Meanwhile, at WalMart, the parking lot was jammed with customers and cars.

Newnan Police officer Scott Milam stood by the doors as people slowly exited WalMart and seemed optimistic about the behavior of the customers this year. “It’s been pretty good this year. Nothing major. No riots or anything, everyone has been comparatively polite. Seems like it was a little bit smoother than it was last year. I think because they started earlier this year, it may have made a difference.”

The checkout lines stretched into various departments throughout the store with some customers expecting at least an hour wait in line.

“I was fifth in line when I got here” said Julie Strickland of Sharpsburg who was leaving the WalMart with two iPad mini’s. “I waited in the checkout line for only 30 minutes though. I’m ready to go home” she said.

WalMart cashier, April Chatham, said the customer rush isn’t a big deal for her. “I just got here at 2 in the afternoon and I’ll be working until 11 tonight. That’s what most of our shifts are usually. It’s nothing new. It’s just the chaos that’s different. As long as I get to go eat some dinner, I’m alright” she laughed.

Meanwhile at Target, the line stretched past Rack Room Shoes as the opening at 8 p.m. drew closer.

Valerie Hayes and Michelle Yawn had been in line since 3:30, waiting for video games, various electronics — and a Furby.

“Yes, a Furby” laughed Yawn. “As a parent, you will do anything for your children.”

“We’ve been taking turns running to Burger King. They’re the only place that is open” said Hayes. “We’d had all the Thanksgiving food we could stand this afternoon.”

However, she still would rather come on early Friday morning instead of Thanksgiving afternoon.

“I used to put the kids to bed, come out here around midnight and sit out all night long” said Hayes. “I honestly prefered that.”

Next to them, Jamie Rhynhart, Elizabeth and JoAnne Neece and Heather Haskin passed the time playing board games while bundled up in sweatshirts and visited with passersby.

“It’s been fun but I’m still a little nervous about someone running me over” said Haskin.

The iPad Air, several large screen TVs, Nintendo 3DS XL and Zoomer the Robot Dog had sold out by mid-morning at Target.

On Target.com, where nearly all doorbusters were available on Thanksgiving Day, traffic and sales were among the highest Target has seen in a single day. In the early morning hours after the doorbusters first became available, Target.com saw two times more orders versus last year at that time.




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