ALPENA - A few major Alpena retailers opened their doors to shoppers on Thursday with promises of amazing deals and exclusive sales, hoping to get a jump on the competition and lure post-Thanksgiving crowds a day earlier than traditional Black Friday sales have done in the past. Shoppers were out in force, but some more reluctantly than others.
Alpena resident Diane Phillips, who has been a Black Friday shopper for years, was pursuaded to leave the house at 5:30 a.m. Thursday to get a deal on a present at Kmart for her son. In line for a sale at Walmart that evening, she said combining Thanksgiving with Black Friday marginalizes them both.
"The stuff that I'm going to get, I'd rather get it on sale than pay regular price for it," she said, then admitted, "It takes the fun out of it, for me. I like the big crowds. It kind of ruins it. It's not Black Friday anymore."
News Photo by Andrew Westrope
Throngs of Thanksgiving Day shoppers wait in line at Walmart on Thursday in anticipation of holiday sales that started at 8 p.m. In-store specials on laptops, games, cookers, comforters, and consumer products of all kinds drew hundreds to the store only hours after many had eaten their Thanksgiving meals.
Also disappointed with the commercial aspect of the season encroaching on her family time, Alpena resident Jacci Gonzales said she would not shop on Thanksgiving morning again, but maybe at night, because she was able to celebrate Thanksgiving earlier in the day. Gonzales was frustrated by what she called misleading advertising but still couldn't turn down the sales.
"I just wish they wouldn't start (the sales) on Thanksgiving. It's like, 'Shut it down,'" she said. "I think it ruins the holiday. Why bother? I'd like to see it where they shut all of the stores down on Thanksgiving entirely and don't start this crap until Friday morning."
For others, Thanksgiving Day shopping is a chance for those who work on Black Friday to participate in the fun.
"It gives people more time to get their things together. Like today, I can get one thing and tomorrow I can get something else," said Peggy Sheldon, who can't go out on Friday because she has to work.
Alpena resident Jessica Jones agreed, although she anticipates having to work on Thursday eventually if Thanksgiving itself becomes a shopping holiday.
"I like it ... It's more convenient for me due to working in retail, you have to work on Friday," she said. "Lots of good deals when you have three kids."
Joe Levesque of Hubbard Lake, formerly of Canton, said Walmart was a little better organized for the Thursday night rush than last year and thought the competition was mild and friendly compared to shopping centers downstate. His family had dinner early in the afternoon, and he thought the deals were worth the rush.
"I don't mind it at all. It's not a big deal," he said. "Usually you just eat and then go to sleep anyway."
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5693.