Shoppers take advantage of Gray Thursday

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The scene at Alliance Town Center Thanksgiving night appeared more like Christmas Eve than “Gray Thursday.”

Though some people opposed stores opening on the holiday, it wasn’t evident at 9:30 p.m. at the shopping center at Interstate 35 W and Heritage Trace Parkway.

A full parking lot with a steady stream of cars circling around, thick crowds of people inside and out, and long lines at the checkout counters proved otherwise.

At Best Buy, there was almost as many employees as shoppers, which made finding the right products a lot easier.

Keller resident Sheri Fishman said she was not a typical “Black Friday” shopper.

On their way home from Thanksgiving dinner, Fishman and her 12-year-old son stopped by the store to check out prices for the Xbox One, but instead decided on a gaming computer.

“I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to find the Xbox, so we stopped here on the way home,” she said. “He changed his mind and went with the gaming computer ... But he still has to wait until Christmas to open it.”

Despite the crowds and long lines, employees and customers appeared happy.

While Fishman was in the checkout line, a store employee took the monitor out of her cart and swapped it with another one.

“Four inches bigger for $20 cheaper,” he cheerfully said.

The scene at Belk was similar, except this store had a DJ in the mix, playing tunes that even store clerks bopped to as they rang up sales.

Colleen Dunkin, a New Fairview resident, along with her daughter Kaci Newton, were in the “shoe line,” one of many additional check-out counters added at the store for the sale.

Dunkin said she has been Black Friday shopping for more than 20 years.

She said it doesn’t matter what time the stores open each year, her family has a plan, which included her son camping out all night at Cabela’s outdoor store at I-35 and Texas 170 for a free gift card.

“We have a team approach, we scout out all of the stores,” she said. “I normally don’t like shopping. But this isn’t shopping, this is a competition.”

Newton, a registered nurse, was still in her scrubs and had joined the family after her shift ended at 7 p.m.

Dunkin knew her daughter would have no time for dinner, so she packed a few tamales in her purse before heading out the door.

Newton said her adventure began at Kohl’s on South Main Street in Keller with $75 in Kohl’s cash in hand.

She said her purchase of a KitchenAid mixer, four big bath towels and a sweater for $141 was a bargain, especially since she got more Kohl’s cash to spend for her next visit in the store.

Greg Savera, Kohl’s store manager, said about 1,000 people were in line when the store opened at opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night.

Hot items at Kohl’s this year were the toys, which were marked down 50 percent, fine jewelry and electronics such as flat-screen TVs.

Savera said staffing the store on the holiday was not difficult.

“We were able to staff most shifts with volunteers,” he said. “And we increased our hiring this year.”

When Savera learned the store would be opening on Thanksgiving, he said he wasn’t surprised.

“This is the trend, we saw this coming,” he said. “And quite frankly, I kind of like it.”

Savera said after the rush from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., the store quieted down until about 5:30 a.m., when shoppers began trickling back into the store at a steady pace.

Jill Keyrouze, of Fort Worth, was in the store at 5:30 a.m. picking up angel tree gifts.

Keyrouze, who has been Black Friday shopping for the past six years, said she prefers the stores to remain closed on Thanksgiving.

“We like the 4 a.m. thing,” she said. “We go as a family.”

Keyrouze said she was surprised there were hardly any shoppers in the stores at that time.

“Nobody was in Target, nobody was in J.C. Penney,” she said. “With so few people in the stores, was it worth it? They have to pay the employees to work all night.”

Savera, who expected the next surge of shoppers between 6 a.m. and noon, said he was pleased with the outcome.

“I can’t say how this compares to last year until we get the numbers, but by the looks of the traffic, I would say it’s comparable,” he said. “We’re feeling pretty good about it right now.”

Susan McFarland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @susanmcfarland1

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