Customers pack the entrance to Shopko Thursday at 9 p.m. in search of Black Friday specials. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Shoppers turn out for holiday specials

Published 9:01am Friday, November 23, 2012

Hundreds of shoppers flocked to area stores Thursday night to take advantage of Black Friday sales that dipped into Thanksgiving Day.

With stores opening as early as 8 and 9 p.m. Thursday, some shoppers seemed pleased to get an early start on their holiday shopping, while others had opinions to the contrary.

Julie Janssen of Albert Lea, left, and Emily Tufte of Northwood, right, inspect DVDs for sale in an aisle Thursday evening at a packed Walmart store in Albert Lea. People hunted for Black Friday specials, and electronics were popular.

“I liked it in the morning better,” said Jason Hoiseth of Albert Lea.

Hoiseth, who arrived at Walmart at about 7:30 p.m. with a shopping list in hand, had his eyes set on a 40-inch LCD Emerson television for $198, along with a TV wall mount, an LG Blu-ray player and a wood-burning fire pit, among other items.

He said the earlier sales took away from a family tradition of seeing a movie on Thanksgiving night, but he loves the deals and came out anyway.

At Walmart, the sales began at 8 p.m. on toys, game systems, clothes, kitchen appliances and household items, while sales on TVs, iPads, laptops and other electronics began at 10 p.m. Lines snaked up and down the aisles — even in the grocery department — for some of the electronics.

A third round of sales began at 5 a.m. today and included some hunting gear, jewelry, sewing machines, a tool cabinet and even Christmas decorations.

Jeff Alberts of Minneapolis checks on his two daughters, Jessica and Josi, at Walmart on Thursday. Though they were in the cosmetics aisle, they were in line for laptops that were to go on sale at 10 p.m. Store officials handed out slips of paper for the laptops at the special hour. Jeff Alberts is an Albert Lea High School graduate.

Albert Lean Amy Schmidt arrived at Walmart at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to take advantage of deals on gifts for her children and grandson.

She purchased a LeapPad for her grandson and hoped to get cellphones for her son and her daughter and a laptop for her other son.

She said it was her third year venturing out into after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy.

Down the aisle was Stacie Whiteside of Wells who was shopping for her five children.

“I can’t pass up a deal,” Whiteside said. “My husband thinks I’m insane.”

She was shopping for bikes, scooters, trucks and other toys and was thrilled to be done with her shopping before the sales would have even begun in previous years.

She said she would be mostly done with her Christmas shopping by the end of the outing.

Across town at Shopko, doors opened at 9 p.m. with more than 600 doorbusters.

Shoppers at Walmart on Thursday wait by their carts inside the store for 8 p.m. to arrive, the hour when Black Friday sales kicked off and they could begin buying goods.

Retired telephone operator Donna Mae McCamish of Ellendale ventured out for her first after-Thanksgiving shopping trip.

McCamish said in her years as a telephone operator she never had the chance to shop with the earlybird shoppers.

“We’ve never done it before, and it’s not 3 in the morning,” she said.

She stood in line outside the store for more than 30 minutes with granddaughters Whittney and Sydney as winds howled around them before the doors opened at 9 p.m.

She didn’t have anything specific in mind that she wanted to buy but planned to go inside and and see what she found.

“I don’t have a problem with the stores opening earlier,” McCamish said. “It’s the people’s choice.”

Customers waited outside of Shopko in cold northwest winds Thursday. This was about a half hour before the store opened, but the line got much longer before the doors were unlocked at 9 p.m.

Other stores opening early in Albert Lea included Sears at 8 p.m. Thursday, Herberger’s and Dunham’s Sports at midnight, Home Depot at 5 a.m. today, Sears at 7 a.m. and RadioShack at 8 a.m.

The day after Thanksgiving has long been known as the unofficial kickoff to holiday shopping. In recent years, however, Black Friday has become a frenzy of activity, with rock-bottom prices to entice shoppers into its doors even earlier.

For many retailers, it’s the day of the year where they go from the red, or posting a loss on the books, to the black, or turning a profit.

Hannah Silva, in maroon, and Carrie Silva, in light brown, check out specials on jewelry Thursday at Shopko.