LAKEWOOD — The Black Friday shopping holiday is slowly becoming more of a Black Thursday, as more and more local retailers opened their doors to thousands of early-bird shoppers on Thanksgiving Day.
This year, large chain stores such as Walmart and Target began their Black Friday sales in the evening, with both Arlington and Tulalip Walmart stores offering three sales events at 8 p.m., 10 p.m., and 5 a.m. The Marysville Target store, located at Lakewood Crossing, opened its doors at 9 p.m. and the Lakewood Best Buy began their sale at midnight.
Deb Hunt, manager of the Marysville Target store, explained the chain’s decision to open on Thursday, Nov. 22.
“Last year we opened at midnight and the year before that it was 4 a.m.,” she said. “It’s based on trends and business needs. And the consumer is very excited about Black Friday and eager to come early.”
The line around the building proved the same, as some customers arrived five hours before the store opened its doors.
Marysville residents Cathy and Steve Hammond were the first to stake their claim on the curb outside of the store and are no strangers to the Black Friday sales.
“This is our first year at Target,” said Cathy Hammond. “We’ve gone to Walmart and Cabela’s in the past.”
The Hammonds were initially drawn by a Target offer for an Apex brand television on sale for $147, but the advertisement misprinted the screen quality as 1080p rather than the actual 720p.
Although the Hammonds were perturbed by the misprint, they were still excited to shop.
“We may get the 50-inch TV on sale for $349. We’re also going to get the Xbox Kinect bundle for $199,” said Cathy Hammond, who also said she appreciated the early hours at Target.
“I like it on Thanksgiving, I hate getting up early,” she laughed. “We’ve been doing this for the last five years or so and we’ll keep doing it. It’s for our kids and our grandkids. Plus it’s fun. It’s about the hunt, the challenge, seeing what you can get. And I’d wait out here for eight hours if it meant getting something for my grandkids that they’ll really like. That’s what Christmas is all about — the kids.”
Arlington resident William Frankhouser was also glad for the early Thanksgiving hours, but didn’t plan to race to the electronics department for the TV deals.
“I’m getting some of the smaller electronics and sale items,” he said. “I’m just hoping to find a few things here and there. It’s always a challenge to buy local too, so I’ll be shopping at the local businesses later.”
Target team members offered waiting customers free Starbucks coffee samplers and granola bars, fuel for the shopping to come.
Neighboring Best Buy had an earlier line, despite a later opening time. The first person to set up camp in front of the doors came from out of the country for the best deals.
“I came to get a computer and a TV,” said Brodie Winkler, of British Columbia, who arrived at the store at 1 p.m. “This is the only place I’m stopping, I just came for those two items.”
Rose Weller of Arlington was chatting with Winkler and others while waiting.
“I’m here for the laptop,” she said.
“And I’m her line-holder. I saved her spot when she had to go to work,” said her sister Devin Weller. Her mother, Laurie Weller, joked that she joined in as shopping support and food supplier.
Brett Donnelly of Stanwood brought a tent and a heater for the event, which he graciously shared with the Wellers, Winkler and others in line.
“Because in this state it rains and gets cold, and I’m a sissy,” he joked. Donnelly waited at Best Buy to purchase two separate televisions and a laptop. Arlington’s Jennifer Brashear and her mother Laurie were thankful for Donnelly’s generosity. “We meet new people every year and it’s fun,” said Jennifer Brashear.
“It’s our Thanksgiving mother-daughter bonding time,” said Laurie Brashear.
Both the Tulalip and Arlington Walmart stores had large crowds for their doorbuster events.
“This is my first time here,” said Barry Gohl of Seattle, who visited the Tulalip Walmart on Thanksgiving Day. “I came for the laptop they advertised for $179.”
Arlington Walmart store manager Fritz Fittinger figured that the electronics would be the most popular sale items, much like other stores.
“We have a 32-inch TV on sale for $198, and great sales on laptops and other electronics,” he said. “There’s also several toys that are popular, like the Furby, which has been reintroduced, and the Bouncy Puppy which we can barely keep from bouncing off the shelves already.”
Several locally owned stores offered sale prices for Black Friday, but opted out of the extended hours.
Patricia Schoonmaker, owner of Trusty Threads in Marysville, offered deals such as $5 off and buy one, get one half off, for both Black Friday and the following Small Business Saturday, but decided not to open early.
“Small Business Saturday has caught on here so my Black Friday is really Small Business Saturday,” she said.
Craft Mart of Marysville maintained their regular 9 a.m. opening but offered doorbuster deals, including half-price on selected ornaments and artificial trees.
“It’s kind of our kick-off to Christmas,” said store owner Tina Oiness. “We used to open at 7 a.m., and we have some diehard shoppers, but most people are camping outside of Best Buy.”
Like Trusty Threads, Craft Mart participated in Small Business Saturday and is also hosting an open house on Dec. 1, from noon to 5 p.m.
“The trees will be up and we’ll be in full holiday gear,” said Oiness. “We’re having a big sale and big activities.”