It was a day of firsts on Thursday, otherwise known as Thanksgiving Day, with Alex and Karina Rodriquez the first ones in line at the Best Buy store in Columbus.
The husband and wife, both 21 and from Texas with Alex stationed at Fort Benning, had started their quest for a $199.99 Toshiba 49-inch 4K HDTV at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The couple brought a tent and chairs. About mid-afternoon Thursday, they didn’t appear any worse for wear while waiting for Best Buy’s 5 p.m. doorbuster opening.
“It wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t cold,” said Alex, holding a large umbrella to ward off the sun shining brightly through occasional clouds on an unseasonably warm day. The Texan had camped out at Best Buy several years in a row with his mother, but for Karina, who also had her eye on a Hoover vacuum cleaner, it was her first such experience.
“I don’t like it,” she said, smiling. “I would rather just pay the full price.”
Next door at Peachtree Mall, standing outside JCPenney for its 3 p.m. opening were Angela Rivera and her father Juan Carlos Rivera, who is visiting from Mexico. Neither had eaten Thanksgiving lunch or dinner yet. They had been there since noon.
“I’m looking for shoes,” said Angela, 14, from Opelika, Ala. No electronics for her. They were headed next to Kohl’s at Columbus Park Crossing. “I’m a girl, so I like clothes and shoes.”
Overall, it appeared that there weren’t as many shoppers lining up and waiting at the doors of the large retailers this Thanksgiving Day. After all, Black Friday was just a few hours away, offering yet another opportunity to snag some major deals on gifts. Only a handful of people were waiting at Toys R Us, and the line for Target’s 6 p.m. opening was relatively short.
“I came here a little bit after 2 and I was like, ‘whoa, am I seeing things?’ ” said Lori Shaw, 53, of Columbus, who was first in line at Target, which surprised her. “I came here this time last year and I was way down there by Fresh Market.”
In fact, Shaw had attempted to purchase the doorbuster 32-inch TV she wanted for $85 online, but it had sold out already. So hop in the car and motor over to Target she did, where she was just ahead of Columbus resident Jay McLoughlin, 50, who was after a $99 Samsung tablet and some movies.
Shaw said she gobbled up her Thanksgiving meal before leaving home, with plans to meet up with her sister and others at Walmart for even more shopping, likely until midnight. She planned to be back out on Black Friday as well.
“I’ll probably be back out Saturday, too,” she said.
That was similar to the mindset that Lisa Haye had as she sat in a portable chair in front of Kohl’s at Columbus Park Crossing for its 6 p.m. opening. The Cataula, Ga., resident had arrived at noon but quickly dispatched a couple of her grown children to JCPenney because of coupons and special purchase cards that were being distributed.
“I always shop. Black Friday. Thanksgiving. We pushed back Thanksgiving dinner for this,” said Haye, who expected to chow down on turkey and dressing about 7 p.m. She planned to check online again Thursday night for more Black Friday deals to see if there was anything she was interested in buying.
Haye, who jumps into the holiday shopping spirit every year, said the trend of stores opening their doors on Turkey Day serves a purpose.
“On Thanksgiving, they’re not as jam packed (as on Black Friday),” she said. “I hate that workers have to work on Thanksgiving, though.”