So who comes out after Thanksgiving turkey or gets up before dawn on a frosty Black Friday to buy poinsettias for 99 cents or a tool chest for $99?
Even if they shopped online for some of their gifts, individuals and families lined up Thursday starting at 2 p.m. when JCPenney at Edgewater Mall opened and went from one sale to the next. Some said they went home to rest, while Lona Garlotte of Latimer said she and her sister-in-law stayed out all night and had just a couple of more gifts to buy at 7:30 a.m., when they split up to shop two different sales.
The crowds were big on Thanksgiving, shoppers said, yet they found most people in the stores were courteous and even smiling this year. The lines were shorter on Friday morning, when the temperatures dipped to the mid-30s before dawn.
“This is the first time I’ve ever done this,” said Nick Foto of Biloxi, who was enticed to the Black Friday sale at Home Depot by a $99 toolbox. “Then I’m going to Lowe’s and buying a dishwasher,” he said.
“TV sets are amazing what they’re selling for this year,” Foto said. But he wasn’t buying, saying he had all the televisions he needs.
At Home Depot in Biloxi and Lowe’s in D’Iberville, people filled their carts with those 99-cent poinsettias, Christmas trees and tools, while at other stores electronics, clothing, small appliances and fashion boots were hot items this year.
Shoppers didn’t just buy gifts on sale. Yvonne Lowery of St. Martin said she was standing out in the cold at PetSmart on Friday morning for a great buy on cat litter by the tub.
“It’s the sale,” agrees Lorene Lyons of D’Iberville that drew her to the “packed” Walmart in Ocean Springs on Thursday night and had her back out shopping for a Christmas tree at a great deal Friday morning.
Then there were special offers, like the offer for free computer virus protection that had Darrel and Cindee Holloway of Latimer at Office Depot on Friday morning after they stayed home Thanksgiving night and babysat for their grandkids, whose parents went out shopping. At SteinMart in Biloxi, manager Amy Stillman said a local man found the golden hangar to win the contest and a $500 gift card about 10 minutes after the store opened Friday at 7 a.m.
Shoppers had to weigh braving the crowds at Coast shopping centers with security concerns over purchasing on the internet as more security breaches are announced regularly. D’Iberville City Manager Clay Jones says he tells his police officers they aren’t just protecting shoppers but promoting economic development by making people comfortable at stores throughout the city.
Remelyn Stanley, 30, of Biloxi said she ordered online but also went out shopping. She always starts Thanksgiving shopping at Kohl’s at The Promenade in D’Iberville because of the Kohl’s Cash promotion that gave her $100 to shop next week. She and her mother, Sonia Andrews of Biloxi, then went to Walmart, Target, Bell and JC Penney on Thursday night, and were in line for the 7 a.m. sale at PetSmart, looking for a good price on an aquarium.
“I like seeing things,” Stanley said. And there is that tradition of shopping with mom every year.
Tradition is a big part of Black Friday shopping, said Terry Powell, general manager at Edgewater Mall, which opened in 1963.
“Christmas has changed a lot since then,” he said, but those who shopped at the mall when they were kids want that same tradition for their children and grandchildren.
David and D Daniel and their three sons from Carriere go out shopping every Black Friday. Every year since 2006 they’ve ended their shopping trip with a family photo with Santa at Edgewater Mall. For the first time this year they went out Thanksgiving night to get a great price on a video console, but aren’t sure they’ll make that a tradition.
The weather was colder this Black Friday than last year, shoppers said, and that seems to have put people in the mood for Christmas shopping.
“Traffic’s been brisk, very brisk,” Powell said, even the week before Thanksgiving.
Those who didn’t get everything on their shopping list will be back out for “Shop Small Saturday” and a weekend of many more sales in South Mississippi.