Shoppers crowd Janesville stores for early Black Friday sales
Sarah Liebert doesn't mess around.
From Sunday to Thursday she was living outside of Best Buy in a tent to be first inside the store and save big on gifts for herself, family and friends.
“It's my favorite day of the year,” Liebert said. “It's an adrenaline rush. I'm saving a total of about $1,000.”
Getting the best deals by waking up before the crack of dawn the day after Thanksgiving isn't necessary anymore. Now it's about eating an early holiday dinner and then hitting the stores.
Several large retailers have started dishing out savings on the evening of Thanksgiving Day because of customer demand.
Becky Seiler, Gurnee, Ill., arrived at Kohl's at 6:30 p.m. to be the second person in line. She and a group of people waited eagerly for Molly Blackwell, store manager, to open the doors at 8 p.m.
On Seiler's list was a 7-quart Crock-Pot and Monster High dolls. Her advice to get in and out is to stay organized.
“I always get the paper, pick out what I need and type a list so I don't overspend,” Seiler said. “I'm a professional shopper.”
This is Seiler's 12th year of shopping after Thanksgiving. She does it for the deals and the fun.
Pat McDonald, Janesville, arrived at Kohl's at 7:58 p.m. and worked his way patiently through the store.
Once he reached the back of the store near the kitchen supplies he paused to take out a big blue bag, complete with a gold bow.
“From my experience, I know carts don't hold everything,” McDonald said.
McDonald has been shopping on Black Friday, and now on Thursday, for several years. Each year he buys anything that is at least 75 percent to 80 percent off, then donates it to ECHO.
“I enjoy shopping for bargains,” McDonald said with a smile.
Retailers' bargain hours are slowly shifting earlier and earlier.
In 2011 Target opened at midnight. In 2012, the store opened at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. This year it opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Marcet Eustice, Target team leader, said the earlier hours are a reflection of consumer needs.
“Our store sees positive response from our guests in regards to what we have for offerings,” Eustice said.
Alicia Schneider, Janesville, helped Liebert maneuver the crowds at Best Buy and stood in line for her to get two televisions.
“I hate Black Friday,” Schneider said. “It just gets worse every year. I went three years ago and it was awesome because we went at midnight.”
Schneider said it is better to start on Friday so people can enjoy the holiday with the people they care about.
Not all retailers opt to open on Thanksgiving Day.
Menards and Blain's Farm and Fleet are closed on the holiday to allow employees to spend time with loved ones.
To be open on Thanksgiving would be the easiest option to compete with local competitors, but the companies value their associates' time with family more than the extra cash flow of being open Thursday.
“We do understand that many of our competitors choose to have their associates work on Thanksgiving,” Renee Tarnutzer, company spokeswoman said. “As a private company … we try to put ourselves in the shoes of the associates and ask 'What would we like to be doing on this holiday?' and the answer is easy—we want to spend it with our family and our friends at home.”
Farm and Fleet's approach to letting its employees be at home with their families is what one woman is asking people across the country to agree with and sign her petition on Change.org.
In an open letter to Target, Patricia Stumpff, Dayton, Ohio, is asking Target to close its stores on Thanksgiving and open them at a reasonable hour on Black Friday so families and friends can be together. The petition has more than 100,000 signatures.