Sales start earlier on Thanksgiving; shoppers plan accordingly

By Jim McCabe on November 29 at 8:52am

The earlier the sales start, the earlier shoppers arrive, apparently.

That was the best way to describe the scene at Jacksonville’s retail outlets that opened up for pre-Black Friday sales last night. The city’s Wal-Mart began its major holiday door-busters at 6 p.m., two hours earlier than last year.

Apparently not everyone got in the holiday spirit right away. Mary Lawrence of Roodhouse says she got pushed over while she was in the store.

“My mom was trying to get dolls for her grandkids, and this lady came behind me and pushed me with her cart, and then I fell over and she looked at me and walked away real quick,” says Lawrence. She says a similar incident happened two years ago.

For D.J. Lambert’s family, they were there to get flat-screen TVs and an iPad Mini. For the 16-year-old from White Hall himself, it was the first time doing something like this, and it might be the last.

“It was pretty ridiculous, I think. I’m not going to do this again next year,” Lambert says. “You couldn’t even moving a foot ahead of you without waiting five minutes in line.”

Maybe it depends on how much you moved around. Paula Haley of Jacksonville says she saw good manners and respectful shoppers as she waited for over an hour near a litter of televisions that were part of an hourly sale.

“I’m meeting some very interesting people,” says Haley. “It’s actually my first year coming out at Wal-Mart. We noticed there was a bunch of ads and things that our kids were interested in, so when you’re on a tight budget, you need to look for the good deals. We found several good deals we were interested in buying.”

Jacksonville Police Sergeant Chris Johnson says his officers made an attempt to have a presence at every major store that was open overnight, including Shopko, Dunham’s, JCPenny and Sears. Officers were also hired privately at Wal-Mart.

“I believe our crowds were very well-behaved. I believe our stores in the Jacksonville area [have] improved every year from what doesn’t work in the past,” he says. “It has flowed very well from my point of view.”

Police did report one burglary last night. A resident in the 700 block of North Clay reportedly told officers at 9:45 that sometime between 7 and 9 p.m., someone removed a 32-inch television, a DVD player and miscellaneous clothing items with the tags still attached.

Johnson says be mindful when shopping this weekend.

“Locks and lights; any time we have that combination, it tends to decrease the amount of work a criminal wants to go through to try and get at it,” Johnson says. “It deters them just a little more than your average home.”

Johnson says extra security is being provided for the stores opening this morning, and that the police department will continue to patrol all Jacksonville retail outlets today.