By CHRIS AGEE
Retailers are vying for early Black Friday shoppers this year, in some cases by kicking off big sales on Thursday evening.
Walmart, which has traditionally been open on Thanksgiving, was among the first to announce sales beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“Most of our stores are open on Thanksgiving anyway, so our sales will just start a little earlier,” said Walmart spokesperson Debbie Wishon.
Though national media has reported on potential walkouts by Walmart employees unhappy about working on Thanksgiving, Wishon said individual stores are handling any discontent effectively.
“They’re on an individual basis and there are all these claims about it when it’s just not true,” she said.
Bealls is joining Walmart and other retailers in offering special deals on Thanksgiving.
“This is the first time we’ve done that,” said manager Ann Burns, explaining the store will be open from 8 p.m. to midnight Thursday, reopening at 6 a.m. Friday. “We have over 300 doorbuster deals,” she added, noting shoppers will find big bargains around the store.
Additionally, she said, the first 25 customers on Thursday and Friday will receive a scratch-off ticket good for up to a $100 gift card.
Far from upset about working on Thanksgiving, Burns said the shift was fully staffed with additional employees still wanting to work.
“We work for a pretty good company,” she said.
Eligible for twice their regular wage, Burns said, “I had them offering to work.”
She said initiatives such as an extended Black Friday sale, Bealls shoppers will have a total of 23 extra shopping hours this Christmas season compared to last year.
Owned by the same parent company as Bealls, recently opened retailer Steele’s will operate under the same extended business hours.
Manager Debbie Wade said the first 100 customers Thursday will receive a ticket redeemable for a pair of earbuds, a $10 gift certificate or a grand prize shopping spree valued at $149.
Wade said Steele’s has received a warm welcome from the community since opening last month and looks forward to offering great Black Friday bargains.
“Great prices, friendly staff, can’t beat it,” she said.
VF Outlet manager Yelly Hensley said the store will extend its hours by two on Black Friday with specials from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Until 1 p.m., Hensley said shoppers will receive a ticket for a discount of 15 percent to 100 percent off their total purchase. For the rest of the day, all items will be discounted 10 percent.
She said shoppers can also qualify for a computer giveaway.
While major retailers compete to open earliest, some local business owners have opted to forego the extended hours – but not the sales.
“We’ve got a lot of sales,” said Radio Shack owner Michael Dunn, but he explained his store will not open early as it did last year.
Retailers “kind of killed it last year, opening at midnight,” he said, noting the trend continues this year.
Likewise, Ace Hardware will offer Black Friday deals but will maintain its regular store hours.
While the bustling marketplace and deep discounts associated with Black Friday obviously attracts a large crowd each year, shoppers at local retailers Tuesday morning were overwhelmingly unimpressed.
“It’s crazy,” Lori Meeks explained. “There’s nothing I want bad enough to get out on those two days. If I do any shopping, it will be on the computer.”
Tommy Sims agreed, explaining one ill-fated experience proved he was not meant to be a Black Friday shopper.
“I did that one time,” he said. “I got out there at two or three in the morning and said ‘Never again.’ It’s not worth the loss of sleep.”
Some retailers hope holiday shoppers will feast on Thanksgiving Day sales, store openings before Black Friday’s traditional rush
By CHRIS AGEE
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