Published Saturday, November 24, 2012
By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Coweta shoppers were out in waves Thursday night for Black Friday — which started early at most stores this year.
Some larger retailers started their day-after-Thanksgiving sales on Thanksgiving itself, while many others opened at midnight.
The Newnan Target store opened at 9 p.m. A long line stretched from the front door all the way along the sidewalk in Newnan Crossing West center to Michel's craft store, which was doing a booming business in Christmas-related items, having opened at 4 p.m.
As the magic hour of 9 p.m. hit, lined-up shoppers were allowed to enter 50 at a time.
It appeared to be the biggest after-Thanksgiving crowd ever to Ed Dhauw, who was line wrangling on the sidewalk. He's been working the after-Thanksgiving sales for nine years.
"This is the most I've ever seen. This is a record," Dhauw said.
He thinks the evening hours are a big part of it.
"When people get done with dinner, they want to go out and have some fun," he said. "To a lot of people, this is fun. And they are getting really good deals," he said.
The shoppers stay pretty well behaved, he said. "In the eight years I've been doing this, it really hasn't gotten out of hand," he said. Several officers were on hand from the Newnan Police Department to make sure of that.
"Those guys are doing an outstanding job," he said of the officers.
Some of those toward the front of the line were concerned about latecomers trying to break in line.
"We do not like line cutters," said Tori Bennett.
Plenty of shoppers were milling in the parking lot across from the front door, instead of going to the back of the line. That's so they could blend in with the line, once it started moving, according to some shoppers.
One man in line told those assembled that a newspaper reporter would be taking pictures of all the "cutters."
"Shut up, it's just a line," said one alleged line breaker.
"It's funny how they yell at people even though it's Thanksgiving," said another. They denied trying to cut in line. They were just waiting on the line to go down, they said.
Michelle, Tori, and Allie Bennett were just getting started with their Black Friday shopping. They came all the way from Pike County.
"It's tradition," said mom Michelle. She's been doing it for about 35 years. Last year, they shopped from 6 p.m. on Thursday to 10 a.m. on Friday. "We don't get home 'til noon," she said. The deals are good, and it's fun.
Mable Smith-Sharp has been hitting the after Thanksgiving sales for 30 years. Her sister used to work at Wal-Mart, and remembered having to have a police escort into the store so she could get past all the shoppers, Smith-Sharp said.
"I'm too obsessed with this. It's no joke," said Allison Simpson, also in line at Target. "I've been doing this ever since I was little," she said.
Allie Moncus and Justin Spain arrived at Target a little after the opening, after hitting up Wal-Mart. The store had been open all day, but the special Black Friday sales didn't start until 8 p.m. Some items were covered in advance of the sales. People lined up for televisions starting at the bakery and wound through the store, said Spain.
It was their first time really taking part in the after Thanksgiving sales rush; they were basically killing time at Target until stores in Ashley Park opened at midnight, they said.
Suzanne Breedlove and her daughter, Dana Breedlove West, were almost to the front of the Target line at 9:15.
They were asked what they thought of the stores opening on Thanksgiving instead of the next morning.
"This is ridiculous. It's Thanksgiving," Breedlove said. But she was still there. Why? "iPad, iPod," said West.
By 9:30, the line at Best Buy snaked around the building, though the store wasn't set to open until midnight. Those at the front of the line had been there for hours. Many, many hours.
Sisters Bailey and Casey Deridder were proudly at the front of the line — where they had been since about 10:30 Wednesday night. They had set up a tent and slept there, along with their dog.
Next in line were Kim and Jimmy Thomas, who arrived at 4 a.m. on Thursday.
Thomas Gipson got dropped off at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving.
The main reason they were all spending their holiday on the sidewalk was for a super deal on a 40-inch television.
It was the Deridder sister's first time sleeping outside, ever. Their mom came by later to join them. They'd had their Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday.
Gipson, who was buying a gift for his step-sister, missed the Thanksgiving dinner at both his mom's and his dad's. But that was OK. And they brought him a plate.
The Thomas' have been camping out at the Newnan Best Buy ever since it opened. They were there for the TVs as well as laptops.
After they did their Best Buy shopping, the Deridders had plenty other places to visit, said Holly.
"It's been an adventure, for sure," said Bailey.
"I've found out nice people" can be, said Gipson.
"We'd take lunch breaks and bathroom breaks, and people would watch our stuff," said Casey.
Just then, the first group of Best Buy employes arrived, and were cheered by the waiting crowd.
Will they be doing the same thing next year? Well, it depends on the weather and the deal, said Holly Deridder. The weather was so nice, that really made a difference, she said.
Things were decidedly more mellow in downtown Newnan for "Plaid Friday."
The small town alternative to Black Friday, Plaid Friday featured free gifts for shoppers wearing plaid.
Ray Dubose opened his jewelry store at the normal time, 9:30 a.m.
"Isn't that crazy?" he said with a smile. They got a lot of customers, he said. The Plaid Friday event "brought a lot of new people in, and a lot of families," he said. Those in plaid got a free pearl necklace.
"I think it's been very successful," he said. One customer said she had to go "way back in her closet" to find plaid, Dubose said.
Earlene Scott said business was "so-so" at her downtown Newnan book store. "We had a lot of out-of-towners" who are in town for the holidays come shopping, she said.
She's hopping for a big crowd today, which is Small Business Saturday. Last year's event was quite sucessful, she said.
But on the Friday after Thanksgiving "there is no way we can compete with the big box stores," Scott said.