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Early Black Friday start doesn't deter shoppers

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DeKALB – Surrounded by shopping carts filled with 40-inch TVs and the latest electronic devices, Kendra Shered could feel the familiar adrenaline rush as she inched closer to the checkout line.

Though she had no laptop or big-screen TV, Shered was happy with the treasures of her own during her first stop of Black Friday 2012. Her reason for excitement – a variety of snack food.

“I’m not trying to fight with anybody,” Shered said of her reasons for avoiding big-ticket items. “I just like being out and seeing all the people.”

Although Hostess products and chocolate are not on the typical Black Friday shopping list, Shered was still one of thousands of area residents who benefited from the sales during the country’s largest retail shopping day of the year.

According to a preliminary Black Friday shopping survey from the National Retail Federation, as many as 147 million people planned to shop from Thursday night through this weekend, a slight decrease from the 152 million who planned to do so last year.

In order to attract as many shoppers as possible, some stores such as Walmart and Target started Black Friday deals much earlier than in the past. Walmart began offering deals at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, while Target opened at 9 p.m., instead of midnight as they did last year.

Some Black Friday shopping veterans such as Beverly Darcy, who has frequented the post-Thanksgiving sales for 20 years, said the trend of opening stores before Friday is endangering Thanksgiving and the shopping experience.

“It’s starting to destroy Thanksgiving,” said the Ashton resident as she waited outside Best Buy for a more traditional midnight opening. “I thought it was nice when they opened at 5 [a.m.]”

Others believed the earlier start times made the experience more convenient and organized.

Carrie Ottum and Kristin Young met after their Thanksgiving meals and started shopping at 8 p.m. Thursday.

They said the earlier hours give them an opportunity to plan and execute instead of needing to worry about waking up on time and coordinating a morning schedule.

“It makes it much more convenient,” Ottum said. “It’s worth the money.”

Whether it is 8 p.m. Thursday or 5 a.m. Friday, it does not matter to some shoppers who have embraced the Black Friday tradition as much as Thanksgiving.

For the eighth year in a row, Sherrie Taylor was camped outside Best Buy by Wednesday at 2 p.m. with her son and his friends for their traditional Black Friday routine. The crew had a tent where they made food, played board games and eagerly awaited the opportunity to score a cheap price on a TV.

Even Taylor’s son in Arizona called to let her know he was also in line at a local Best Buy waiting in much warmer weather of 72 degrees. Thanksgiving for Taylor is always celebrated Sunday.

“It’s not about the deals; it’s about the fun,” Taylor said. “We meet a lot of cool people, and it’s a great family tradition.”

It is a tradition many shoppers do not see slowing down any time soon, despite other sale events such as Small-Business Saturday and Cyber Monday competing for early Christmas shopping dollars.

Elizabeth Hernandez, a DeKalb resident who was making her way through a large Target line Thursday, said that although those other sales have benefits, nothing matches the atmosphere of Black Friday.

“I love being able to hang out with family and friends,” she said. “I just love the excitement of all the people.”

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