UNION TWP., Ohio - In spite of Thanksgiving's unrelenting rain and then Friday morning's below freezing chill, thousands of Tri-State residents made it out of the house to start their Christmas shopping on what retailers refer to as "Black Friday". That's when many say their books are finally going from red(losses) to black(profits) thanks to the start of the Christmas shopping season.
As early as 3 a.m. Friday morning, stores like Kohl's on Harrison Avenue off I-74 opened to anxious shoppers. Clothing and home accessories haven't been big sellers in recent Christmas shopping seasons, but that may change based on how many people waited until Kohl's opened its doors.
At the Eastgate Best Buy store, the line was down the front of the store and around the corner by 4 a.m. Friday morning, an hour before the store was officially to open.
Hundreds had taken their place in line, including some in tents and sleeping bags that started out waiting for computers, TVs and other electronics specials as early as Wednesday.
The good news is that most of those earliest of early bird Black Friday shoppers appeared to get what they came for. Best Buy personnel were out a half hour before the 5 a.m. opening to hand out tickets/fliers to people who were waiting for particular limited sale 'door buster' items like an HP laptop computer for $499 or 42-inch plasma high-definition TVs for $369.
In addition to having Union Township Police stationed at the store, Best Buy also let only several dozen people in the store at a time for the first half hour. That was to make sure there would be no mad rush on particular items and to make sure store personnel could handle all the shoppers in the store at once.
By 6 a.m., the waiting line was completely gone. All the shoppers were inside the store looking through items or standing in check-out lines, which were all open Friday morning.
Kim Strange headed up one entire family of Black Friday shoppers who stopped by the Best Buy store. She and a half dozen of her family say they turn Black Friday shopping into a sport. In fact, they all were wearing specially made t-shirts underneath their coats that touted their Black Friday shopping prowess: Shop or go home was the theme of the shirts.
Strange says she found shopping from 10 p.m. Thanksgiving through Friday morning enjoyable. Without revealing what gifts she had bought, she told 9 News that she had found just about everything she was looking for, but wasn't through yet even after shopping for eight straight hours.
However, it should be said that by 5:45 a.m. we saw as many people walking out with nothing in their hands as those carting big screen televisions to their cars or carrying bags of newly bought electronics.
The question now: Will the frenzy of shopping at this Best Buy and throughout the Tri-State this Friday signal a better than expected Christmas shopping season for 2010?
Some analysts say retail Christmas sales could increase this year for the first time since 2006. Others say they suspect that while more people will spend serious money this Christmas, many families are still trying to be frugal about purchases and may actually spend less than they did last year.
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