LUMBERTON — For those searching for a deal on the busiest shopping day of the year, timing was everything.
At least one major retailer — Walmart — barely waited for Thanksgiving tables to be cleared before kicking Black Friday into full swing with sales beginning at 8 p.m. on Thursday — the earliest ever. Most department and specialty stores opened their doors when the clock struck 12:01 a.m. Friday, while some kept customers waiting until a few hours before sunrise.
Walmart shopper Barbara Allen tried to experience the best of both worlds.
“Some of the people here last night were fighting, but in the lines I was in, people were very courteous,” Allen said at about noon.
Allen joined the early crowd to get the big-ticket items she wanted, and then came back later in the day to pick up stocking stuffers — a two-part approach that turned out to be a slam-dunk.
“The way Walmart staggered their sales this year made it easier. … I think with the economy being bad this past year it seemed like retailers were zeroing in on family needs. I think they had a better variety this year.”
Early Friday afternoon, Kathy Roach was searching through Belk’s ransacked shoe department for a deal on boots. The Clayton resident arrived at Biggs Park Mall at about 10 a.m.
“I expected it to be a lot worse,” she said of the crowd, adding that she didn’t dare come out to Walmart’s early opening because she “didn’t want to see any fights.”
Avoiding shopping scuffles seemed to be a theme among those who waited late. Carolyn Hatem, of Fayetteville, makes the drive to Lumberton to shop for just that reason.
“It’s not as cut-throat here as it is in Fayetteville,” Hatem said. “I like to avoid the crowd … I just like to look around and see if something catches my eye.”
Kathy Hunt joined those who decided to make the trek later in the day. Hunt, who was shopping at Kmart for her grandson, said she waiting until later this year because she didn’t think the deals were as good.
“I always go to Black Friday, but I’m usually up with everyone else,” Hunt said. “The sales weren’t as good as they were last year. … The electronics were pretty good but you had to be here early and probably had to fight for them.”
But some of those who didn’t make it to store’s early openings arrived to find items on their list picked over.
Timmy Dee, out shopping with his son, Emrald Commedo, who was visiting from New York, and his grandson, TJ Gooding, said that he was surprised to see stores out of Black Friday sales by noon.
“The sale ended early,” Dee said. “I’m kind of disappointed about that because I wanted to pickup a few Christmas gifts. Some people have to work and can’t get out here. … They should extend the hours.”
Kimberly Smith was also disappointed by the late-morning selection. She had to go to a few stores to find a video game for her son.
“I went to Walmart last night and just about everything was gone,” Smith said. “They got good deals but I guess you got to get up early to get them.”
Others who waited to shop late had their sights set on no particular bargain. Cathleen Revels and Irene Locklear, sisters, wandered the aisles of JCPenney’s just to see if they “saw anything that anybody might like.” Locklear did, however, score a present for her daughter-in-law’s upcoming birthday.
The Robesonian has elected not to spoil the surprise.