Maybe the biggest winners of the Black Friday midnight shopping marathons weren’t the brave souls who waited in long lines outside, but those who embraced shorter lines later in the morning – and still got the good deals.
The biggest day of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is synonymous with early morning store openings, long lines, limited parking and unbelievable deals.
Although elements of the overnight post-Thanksgiving buying frenzy appeared during the early daylight hours Friday, the check-out lines and parking spots were surprisingly and easily accessible and relatively painless.
Whether that was due to the wavering economy, online shopping or the controversial trend of kicking-off sales late Thanksgiving night, consumers had a variety of options at their disposal beyond the 3 a.m. wake-up alarm.
“Kohl’s was the first spot we hit this morning and the lines were beautiful – in and out,” Plainfield resident Timothy Manning said.
Similarly at Target, traditional Friday shopper Shelly Callahan said she was was surprised to see smaller crowds and the availability of the same deals without the pushing and shoving.
“It’s not crowded at all,” Callahan said. “They said it was bad here last night, but the shopping today is wonderful. I got the doorbusters I thought would be gone last night and I still got them.”
Courtney Roberts added, “We were at Toys R Us before this and they weren’t busy either. Although we didn’t have any of those huge purchases to make so everything that we wanted was going to be on sale today.”
Not everyone was impressed
However, not everyone was in awe of Black Friday’s advertisements and availability.
“The store deals didn’t seem as good as the online deals this year,” said Naperville resident Cindy Ortmann, who was shopping at Meijer’s and had a list of other stores she planned to visit.
Michelle and Jason Edmonds said they liked the deals, including the car stereo they bought from Best Buy for $39.99, but were unhappy with some of the selection.
“I was a little disappointed with JCPenney’s,” Jason said. “They advertised NCAA hoodies for different teams and they only had the Illini. A lot of people were really disappointed. Also, Kmart didn’t have the inflatable chairs (or the) trampoline they advertised. They didn’t even get them in stock. So I was a little disappointed.
“So far, I’ve been impressed with Best Buy. They’ve had a lot of the things they showed still and (so did) Walmart.”
At the Plainfield Menards at 135th Street and Route 59, patrons wrapped around the building at 5:30 a.m. in anticipation of gobbling up some of the store’s sale items. Once inside, patrons rushed to grab popular items, including a $49 tower stereo system, $49.98 GPS, and $19.88 photo frame.
“I did not expect to see the crowds like this over here,” Manning said.
For Shorewood resident Don Knight, 8 p.m. was the new 3 a.m.
With two packed shopping carts of merchandise at Menards, including a couple of $5.99 Wii charging stations for his grandchildren, Knight began his shopping journey on Thanksgiving night with trips to Walmart, Kohl’s, JCPenney’s, HHGregg and finally Menards. Knight expected to end his day around 10 a.m.
“Every year we come out,” Knight said. “This is the first year we’ve been out to this store and there are a lot of people out here.”
Employees at Kohl’s, Target, Toys R Us and Best Buy reported traditional massive crowds between the hours of 9 p.m. Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday morning, with some outside police present -- just in case.
With crowds wrapped around Best Buy as early as late Thursday afternoon, the highly-advertised 42-inch Sharp HD television for $199 sold out within five minutes of the store opening at midnight, leaving many consumers disappointed. Similar frustration ensued at both Toys R Us and Target.
“One of the places we were going to go last night was Toys R Us but we wound up leaving,” Joe Nealand said. “They had police there and the parking lot was full. They had so many people there that they reached their maximum capacity, so they had to let people in one at a time.”
A frustrated Michelle Edmonds, of Coal City, added, “I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I don’t like the way they’re doing it at Target. They lined people up and they let 30 people in every 30 seconds.”