Shoppers line up to open Christmas season|[11/25/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 25, 2005

Several stores opened before dawn this morning to lines of customers getting an early start on the holiday shopping season.

But Wal-Mart SuperCenter, which is open 24 hours, may have been the busiest.

Dozens of shoppers had filled the aisles of the retail giant by 5:30, and more still were filing into the store an hour later. The longest line was at the electronics department, where about 60 people waited to purchase cartloads of gifts.

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But the going was slow, and some shoppers expressed their frustration. Roy Smith of Vicksburg had been in line more than 45 minutes.

&#8220I got here about 5 minutes after 5,” Smith said. &#8220This is the first time I’ve ever shopped the day after Thanksgiving and it’s the last time ever I will do it.”

Smith said he was shopping for grandchildren and was headed to more stores.

&#8220I plan on being out all morning,” he said.

Several shoppers left the line at the electronics department after it was announced that all Gameboy consoles had been sold by 6.

The day after Thanksgiving is historically one of the busiest shopping days of the year, opening the Christmas shopping season, and many retailers advertise big sales and open early to entice shoppers.

That’s why Cynthia Darensburg, another first-time day-after-Thanksgiving shopper, decided to hit the giant discount retailer early. She had already filled one cart with gifts for her two children and was thinking about filling another.

&#8220I don’t think I’m finished,” she said. &#8220I have been here since 10 minutes after 5, and I will probably be out until 11.”

Darensburg, a hurricane evacuee from New Orleans, is the mother of a 21-year-old and a 16-year-old. She said she’s trying &#8220to make the best” of spending Christmas away from home.

&#8220It’s different leaving everything and leaving everyone behind,” she said. &#8220But I’m just trying to make the best of the situation.”

Less than a mile away, more than 50 shoppers walked into Fred’s Super Dollar Store, 3427 Halls Ferry Road, at 5 a.m. They quickly filled their carts with children’s toys and other gifts. Almost four hours later, the store had depleted its inventory of several products.

&#8220We have sold out of DVD players, Dora The Explorer dolls, talking kitchens and Christmas trees,” manager Barry Bingham said.

The first customer arrived at 3, Bingham said.

&#8220We should get another rush by 9, when everyone wakes up. Sales have really been there.”

Fred’s sister store at 1514 Washington St. also opened at 5. Manager Rose Conrad said sales were good in the first hour, although business began to slow there, too.

&#8220We did $5,500 in the first hour,” she said. &#8220We had all three registers going and all three were backed up.”

Forty to 50 people waited outside the store when it opened this morning, Conrad said.

Across town at Vicksburg Factory Outlets, business appeared steady but crowds were not as large as they were at Fred’s and Wal-Mart.

&#8220We aren’t knocking it down, but we’re steady,” Steve Alford, manager of Book Warehouse, said. &#8220We opened at 7, and it should be a good day for us. It looks like Gap was doing well earlier this morning.”

Stores at Pemberton Square mall opened by 7, but the heaviest traffic was at McRae’s, JCPenney and Dillard’s. Most downtown businesses did not open early this morning, but were planning to be open from 1 until 5 Sunday afternoon.