Braxston Williams, who is about to turn 13, found a pair of boots she liked at J.C. Penney Co. in Albany and brought her aunt, Carolyn Smith of Atlanta, to buy them for her.
ALBANY — Infamous Black Friday has come and gone, and while it’s too soon to know how successful retailers have been, a lot of shoppers have no doubt scratched some items off their “A” lists.
In their quest for bigger bucks this year, many of the “big box” operations, such as Target, Toys “R” Us, Kmart and Walmart, were open earlier this year, some extending even to Thanksgiving day itself.
The typically bustling crowds associated with the day seemed to have evened out this year. At just past 5:30 a.m., human flow at the Albany Mall could be navigated almost as easily as a typical Saturday.
Tina Taff and her sister, Jennifer Hayes, who is from Camilla, were in a rush for their free waterproof cameras, given with a $40 purchase at Old Navy.
“They said they were opening at midnight,” Taff said. “We just thought the front door to the mall would be open then, too. We spent a lot of time there before going around to the other door. They still had the cameras, though, and I spent a lot more than $40.”
In addition to Old Navy, the sisters shopped at Aeropostale at the mall where, according to Taff and Hayes, everything in the store was at a 70 percent discount.
“I bought a two-piece matching outfit,” Taff said.
Samantha Figueroa and her sister, Jessie, drove in from Baker County with their grandmother, Linda Trammell. They made the rounds at a number of local retailers, including Sears, J.C. Penney Co. and Walmart on Ledo Road, where Trammell located a fishfinder for her son. There was no lack of company among bargain shoppers at Walmart, Figueroa said.
“We were really early at Walmart, and it was really, really crowded,” she noted. “There were two fights that broke out. Two men were going at it, and (Walmart officials) called the police. A little later, two women got into a fight about breaking in line.”
The Figueroa sisters said the excursion was their first-ever Black Friday expedition, while Trammell said she is a veteran of “about 20” Black Friday trips.
Braxston Williams found a pair of boots she liked and brought along her aunt, Carolyn Smith of Atlanta, to buy them for an early 13th birthday present.
“I love Penney’s,” Williams said.
At 3 a.m. Friday, Sharon Bonner and her friend, Terry Dodd, could be found waiting patiently in line for the doors of the mall to open. More than four hours later, they were packing up their car.
“We’re just tucking these away,” said Bonner, shutting her trunk. “We’re ready to go again.”
“There were just so many people at Belk. It was a madhouse,” Dodd said. “So far we’ve found everything we wanted, though, with some really good deals.”
Some shoppers said the big Toys “R” Us rush had come at 9 p.m. on Thursday, but hot items were still around the next morning. Devin Watson joined his fianceé, Nicole Nelson, in shopping for their 5-year-old daughter, Kennedy. The pair, visiting from Atlanta, intended to brave the line when the store opened Thanksgiving evening but ultimately lost their will.
“The line wrapped all around the building,” Watson said, “and went on inside the store. We just weren’t up for it.”
The pair returned on Friday for their “big deal” item, a Barbie Mustang Power Wheel. It was still available — in the box, “in the bag,” then in the trunk.
“I’m glad we got it,” Watson said, gesturing toward the toy. “That was the big thing.”
As a male companion, Watson was a rare bird among the retail-inclined on Friday.
“I think I entertained some of the ladies,” Watson said. “One lady told me ‘I commend you.’ Maybe it was (my fianceé) she should have said that to. Another lady asked her what her secret was.”
More than one veteran Black Friday shopper was heard to question where the crowds were. Jill Bergeron, senior team leader at Target, said she believes it’s a matter of timing. Target opened at midnight this year — a full four hours earlier than in 2010. Toys “R” Us was off and running at 9 p.m. on Thursday.
“At midnight, the line was wrapped around the building and all the way to Moe’s,” Bergeron said.
While early shoppers found their “target” items, the store ran short of some popular advertised merchandise, televisions and electronics items in particular.
“That’s always going to happen,” Bergeron said. “It’s a two-day sale, and there’s another truck tomorrow. Your item may be on it.”
Aisles at retail giant Walmart on Ledo Road flowed with popular sales items, including televisions, vacuum cleaners, suitcases, toys and pillows. Post-mad rush Friday morning found Glenda Covin wheeling around her prize, a 42-inch Vizio entertainment center. The deal?
“Regular price,” Covin said. “I couldn’t get in the parking lot at 10 p.m. Thursday. I said ‘that’s too much.’ I’m a small person, and I didn’t want to get hurt.”
Instead, Covin said she went to Belk at the Albany Mall on Friday.
“I knew I would win that $1,000 gift card at Belk, but I didn’t. I stayed there and at the mall so long I finally decided to go back and get a TV,” she said.
Carla Brown was on the hunt for an advertised Cuisinart food processor at Kohl’s. She found it among other gadgets and as she stuffed it in her cart, her friend, Daisy McBrydy, happened up and bought one, too.
“It’s $59.99, marked down from $169.99,” McBrydy said. “That’s really hard to beat.”