Black Friday ushers in Christmastime

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 27, 2009

Lack of sleep and long lines didn’t deter Black Friday shoppers this morning, and merchants even opened doors a little early in response to frosty temperatures.

Full carts and armloads of sale-priced Christmas gifts were the order of the day.

“I haven’t slept yet,” said Anesha Brown of Vicksburg, waiting in line at Belk about 7 a.m. It was her third stop. Brown said she shopped at Outlets at Vicksburg Thursday night at 11 for a Midnight Madness sale, then hit Walmart this morning. “I stood in a long line,” she said, to nab a deal on an MP3 player.

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“It’s worth it,” she said of the long wait.

Behind her at Belk, Karen White clutched hangers of shirts and sweaters in one hand while balancing an arm full of sweatshirts, pants and boots. White said she also had shopped at the outlets, then was up at 3:30 a.m. to hit Walmart before 5 and Belk at 6. J.C. Penney was next on her list.

Black Friday is often the busiest shopping day of the year, and officially ushers in the Christmas shopping season. Merchants depend on it to erase red ink from their businesses.

Strategic planning the day before, checking out sales ads and fliers while the Thanksgiving turkey bakes saves a lot of money, said White, who said she will spend a total of $2,500 on holiday gifts.

Belk opened its doors at 3:45 a.m. — 15 minutes early — to get customers in from the cold, said manager Nour Sharif. Temperatures hovered around 30 degrees until after 8.

“We’ve been very, very busy,” said Sharif, who arrived at work at 2:45 a.m. Jewelry, boots and electronics were among the items shoppers lined up to purchase. “That little computer for kids is selling like crazy,” she said of the Discovery Kids Toy Laptop the store was offering for $16.99, nearly half a low-end online price.

Also popular were the Discovery Expedition Wonderwall Video Projector, a small-flashlight-sized MP3 player and a keychain digital photo viewer.

Some bargains that shoppers lost sleep to grab fit only in a truck.

Sears sold out of a heavily advertised washing machine and dryer combo within 15 minutes of its 4 a.m. opening, said store owner Ed Piskovitz. About 20 people were waiting when the doors opened, showing up early because of limited quantities on the hot sale items.

“It’s been steady,” Piskovitz said after several hours of sales. Tools, tool sets, televisions and appliances were selling well, but Piskovitz said it would be later in the day before he knew how today’s sales would compare to last year’s.

About 50 people were waiting when Big Lots opened its doors at 6 a.m., said assistant manager Buddy Baker. “People are buying electronics and furniture, and we’re also selling a lot of toys,” he said. “They’ve been steadily coming in once the rush entered at 6.”

Wesley Blair was at one of the four checkout lines at Big Lots, buying dolls and toys, a Fuzzy Wuzzy fleece blanket and a High School Musical playhouse for his daughter. “I was up at 3,” Blair said. He had been to Walmart also and was going to shop at Dillards and Home Depot before the morning was over.

Waiting at another register, Ergon Marine employee Matt Sanderson said he’d been up since 6 a.m. Thursday, working, hitting sales this morning before heading home to sleep.

“I’m just trying to save a little money, that’s all,” said Sanderson, father of a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old.

Contact Pamela Hitchins at