ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany's "big box" retail stores are gearing up for the biggest shopping day of the year when Black Friday officially kicks off the holiday shopping season.
Many smaller "mom and pop" business such as gift shops, garden centers and florists have already been holding open houses in an effort to spark early business.
As far as the major retailers go, Wal-Mart will not close at all while Belk, Dillard's, Target, Kohl and Sears will all be closed for Thanksgiving and open at varying times on Black Friday.
"As a SuperCenter, will not close the store," Wal-Mart manager Bryan Fenton said. "But we'll actually have two sales going on Friday."
At 2 a.m. Friday, products such as apparel, toys and household items will go on sale followed by large electronics at 5 a.m.
"For the large electronic items we will rope off an area and set up a line. Depending on customer flow I anticipate letting people start getting into the line at 10 p.m. (Thursday)," Fenton said. "We know how much inventory we have and can control the line by counting heads."
Sears will open its doors at 4 a.m. and store manager George Galligan is anticipating a throng of customers.
"We are looking for massive crowds Friday," Galligan said. "I think it will be even bigger than last year. Many major retailers have ramped up spending this year. They can tell by the way the consumers have been shopping.
"Everybody seems to be gearing up for this season."
Dillard's is taking a more subdued approach to Black Friday, opening its doors at 7 a.m.
"We'll have all kinds of stuff on sale," Tina Paul, a manager at Dillard's said. "I don't know if it's a sign of an improving economy or not, but more people seem to be shopping. I know we are doing pretty good here at Dillard's."
J. C. Penney will open its doors at 4 a.m., and store manager Joseph Iles is cautiously optimistic.
"We've seen an increase in customer traffic since August," Iles, who has been with the Albany store for 10 years, said. "Black Friday has grown every year since I've been here. I think the company has given us some really nice offerings for the day to encourage customers to come into the store.
Kohl's will open its doors at 3 a.m. followed by Belk at 4 a.m. Neither store manager was available for comment Wednesday.