By ROB W. ANDERSON
This year, several area businesses decided to get a jump-start on Black Friday sales by opening the check-out lines from 8 p.m. to midnight sales events on Thanksgiving.
Parking lots that often reflect the fluctuating activity inside the stores like Walmart or Stage appeared more like packed long-term car lots at an airport. Customers were on hand to claim their places in line and the right to purchase dramatically-reduced items, from television sets to children’s toys to clothing products.
Stage Department Store, 907 S. Muskogee Ave., began its Black Friday event night of Thanksgiving, and employees were busy with customers trying to walk off their holiday meals as they gathered items priced to their liking, said store Supervisor Linda Rangel.
“This is the first year we’ve done that, and we had a good response. It was convenient for people to be in town. It gave them a chance, you know, after a good meal to get out of the house, and the weather was good,” Rangel said. “When we had our Doorbusters [sale], it was the same as it was [Friday] morning [with people present to enter the store when it opened, but not as many were in line]. It gave people the opportunity that really didn’t want to get up so early in the morning to get out in the evening to do their shopping.”
With many retail stores and outlets hosting Thanksgiving night sales events to avoid extended customer lines and the heated verbal exchanges that occur in a free-for-all environment, Rangel believes Thursday night sales may become the new Black Friday shopping trend.
“I truly do, especially for people with young children. They didn’t have to get the children up so early and worry with trying to drag them out, get them ready and get them fed,” she said. “It worked out really well. With the response we had, I think it very well may be [a new holiday-shopping trend].”
Aneisa Tuell is a new mother and stayed home with her child Thursday night to be with family. She waited until Friday to begin enjoying the sales offered by Tahlequah retailers, like Sharpe’s Department Store, 15 Plaza South.
“I just had a baby, so I was at home [Thursday night], but we got a baby sitter for [Friday] morning,” she said. “I’m planning to go to Rue 21 from here, and that’s it, I think. Wait, Stage is having a sale, too. I didn’t really have a plan. I just wanted to go out and shop.”
Sharpe’s retail clerk Katie Keahbone observed that the Friday morning crowds were thinned by the start of sales Thursday night.
“We’ve been fairly busy – not too bad, though, but I would imagine we’ll get busy this afternoon after people hit Walmart and all the bigger stores,” Keahbone said Friday morning. “All of the people who come in here tend to know what they want because they see the sales paper.”
Sharpe’s Manager Tracy Brown said items began to leave the store as soon as it opened at 7 Friday morning.
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