Black Friday Brings Holiday Shoppers Out Early
Moore County bargain-hunters enjoyed a more subdued and civil edition of "Black Friday" this year.
The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season and is just as famous for its "shopping-cart rage" as it is for its extended store hours and door-buster deals.
Things got so out of control at a New York Walmart last year that a stampeding mob trampled an employee to death as the store opened.
There were no such horror stories in the area this year, according to shoppers milling about Pinecrest Plaza in Southern Pines Friday morning. If anything, Black Friday 2009 in the Sandhills was somewhat pleasant.
"Actually, we've had a really good experience this morning," said shopper Pam Hogan. "Everyone's been really nice, and the lines have been really under control. We haven't run into any problems."
Hogan is a Black Friday veteran and is up early every year. She got started at 4 a.m., hitting Sears, Walmart, Lowe's and Belk by 8 o'clock, and she still had a couple of stops to make. She said there were a lot of great buys this year.
"This is our fun," she said. "This is what we do."
Gayle Robertson also had been out since 4 a.m. About 8:30 a.m., she and Sonja Davis emerged from Belk -- where they spent their entire morning -- carrying some large bags. Like Hogan, they're out there every year on the day after Thanksgiving.
"I have checked out four times," Robertson said. "She (Davis) has checked out three times, and we're coming back at 1 when we can save 10 more dollars."
The pair started out at Belk about 4 a.m., and stood in a long line that snaked down the sidewalk. They were among the first 250 customers in the store and were rewarded with a gift card for their perseverance.
While everyone was civil for the most part, Gayle conceded that things got a little hectic over boots that were on sale. Fortunately, police officers were keeping a close eye on everyone, she said.
"The boots were a big deal," she said. "They had boots on sale for $19.99, and we each got two pairs."
This year was the first time that Megan Forro ventured out among the crowds on Black Friday. She had been shopping for a couple of hours and was loading her haul into her sport utility vehicle She planned to keep shopping for another couple of hours.
"It's pretty crazy," she said. "There's a lot of people out here."
Karen Goepfrich and Cassie Hadad, a mother-and-daughter combo, got up about 4:30 a.m. and hit the stores by 5:15. Goepfrich said it has been a tradition for the last four years, since Hadad was in high school. She's now a student at Georgia Tech.
"It hasn't been as crowded this year," Goepfrich said, adding they've gotten most of their Christmas shopping done now. "Belk had some pretty good deals. We still have to hit Best Buy and Walmart."
Hadad said they saw the biggest crowds as they were leaving Pinecrest Plaza about 8:45 a.m.
"This is probably the fullest we've seen the parking lot in a while," Hadad said.
Stores typically offer big deals and discounts on Black Friday to attract customers in droves. Even with today's economic concerns, Friday was expected to be a big day for retailers across the country.
Elizabeth Minor, manager of Peebles department store in Aberdeen, said the store opened to a long line of customers at 7 a.m., to her delight.
"It's going absolutely wonderfully," she said. "The foyer was full this morning. It's been really busy. I've just been ringing and haven't left the register at all."
Minor said all of the customers she had encountered were happy and smiling.
"I really don't remember us being this busy last year," she said. "I think it's the best it's ever been."
Contact John Krahnert III at (910) 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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