November 28, 2013 12:26:26 AM
Sarah Fowler - firstname.lastname@example.org
In years past, Black Friday sales have been reserved for, well, Friday. Not this year.
Many stores around the Golden Triangle are opening at 8 o'clock tonight, giving shoppers a few more precious hours to snatch up the must-have items of the season.
"If you want to get really good deals, that is definitely the time to shop," said Belk store manager Larry Armstrong.
Belk opens at 8 p.m. but Armstrong expects shoppers to begin lining up outside the doors several hours earlier. For those willing to brave the cold and stand in line, refreshments and coffee will be for sale. There will even be portable restrooms set up outside the store.
Some stores in Leigh Mall will also be open tonight. JCPenney, Bath and Body Works, Rue 21 and The Children's Place will open their doors at 8 p.m. All other stores in the mall will open at 5 a.m. Friday, according to Leigh Mall manager Gail Culpepper.
While the big box stores are starting their Black Friday sales today, some locally owned boutiques are opting to stay closed for the holiday.
Jackie Chasteen, manager of Deep South Pout on Main Street in Columbus, said both the Columbus and Starkville clothing stores will be closed.
"We want our employees to spend the day with their families," Chasteen said. The boutique will open at 7 a.m. Friday morning.
Park Place, a boutique and salon on Fifth Street, will also be closed today. Instead of manning the store during the holiday, Park Place owner Gail Stevens said she and her family would be spending time with the Ole Miss football team and watching the Egg Bowl.
"We will spend today with the boys and watching the game," she said.
The store won't wait long to open, though. They plan to open the shop at 2 a.m. Friday.
"From 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. everything will be 20 percent off," Stevens said. "We will be giving away a door prize every hour until 2 that afternoon."
Stevens encouraged shoppers to shop local instead of heading out of town to find deals.
"I think it's going to be more peaceful here than the hectic, larger department stores," she said. "We have a large variety, we have good prices and we have friendly family service. Come local first. You'll be amazed at what you'll find in the little shops."
While the stores will be offering discounted deals today, some local shoppers are conflicted on whether or not they're willing to trade in turkey for savings.
"I would rather spend the day with family and friends in front of the fire toasting marshmallows and enjoying the company," said Karen Watson on The Dispatch's Facebook page.
Pam Griffith won't be shopping on today or Friday, saying she prefers to do her shopping on the Internet.
"I now do most of my shopping online," Griffith said. "They offer almost the same prices, the selection is better and they deliver to my door."
If she does shop in stores over the holiday, Griffith said she'll get out on Friday just to see the actions of other shoppers.
"If I venture out on Black Friday it's just to observe the crazies," she said.
New Hope native Sara Garner said she would be one of many out shopping tonight. Garner and a friend plan to hit the sales in order to get the hot holiday toys at a discounted price.
"I'm actually going shopping with one of my friends," Garner said. "She's a single mother and we're going to battle the crowds to get her son some toys."
While her friend has a list of stores and when sales start, Garner said she is just along for the ride.
"She has a time schedule but I'm just there to help. I'm just going to be there to be that extra person to stand in line to get the toys."
Mary Margaret Shuttleworth was shopping in downtown Columbus Tuesday afternoon and said she will not be shopping today because unlike Garner, she doesn't have small children to shop for.
"My daughter is older. When she was little, I needed, you know, more things that were on sale that applied to her like Toys R Us," Shuttleworth said.
Shuttleworth may venture out into the crowded shops on Friday but prefers to spend Thanksgiving with family and wishes retailer workers could do the same.
"I would like for other people to enjoy their family," she said.
Kelly Brown said she wouldn't be shopping today or Friday because she views the holiday as a precious time to spend with those closest to her.
"We're traveling usually that day and spending it with family so we don't shop. I know I enjoy spending time with my family and it would be nice if all the stores would allow their employees to do that."
She added, "I don't usually shop this weekend because it's my one down time from work. We just spend a lot of family time."
While Garner will be out fighting the crowds tonight, she admitted she missed when Black Friday sales actually occurred on Friday. This Thanksgiving, Garner is leaving dinner with her boyfriend's family early so she can take advantage of the sales. Regardless of the day or the inconvenience, Garner said shopping on Black Friday is tradition.
"It's kind of a tradition to go shopping on Black Friday," she said. "I like shopping on Friday better to give people that opportunity to spend time with their family and I'm still going to take advantage of the opportunity but I would prefer to shop on Friday when you wake up at 2 o'clock in the morning, hit McDonald's, get some coffee and then go to the sales."
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.