November 28, 2014 9:57:18 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
With Black Friday sales seemingly starting earlier and earlier each year, local shoppers say they have to strategize and plan to maximize their savings on the big day.
Jan Miller said she started making a game plan earlier this week. A Black Friday shopper for the last 20 years, Miller has a list of store openings that coordinate with the optimal sale times. While she might only buy two or three items some years, Miller said she typically spends all day Friday shopping. Not knowing when she'll return or with how much, Miller said her husband, Glenn, says a prayer before she walks out the door.
"I'm a big believer in, I hit all the sales and then I go back after and see if there's anything I've missed," Miller said Wednesday. "There is nothing better than Thanksgiving shopping."
Tiffany Ward of Columbus said she too makes a list and maps out which stores she'll hit and when. Ward said she has been shopping on Black Friday for "as long as I can remember."
Years ago, Ward said she and her family would travel to Georgia to meet up with relatives. The 15 to 20 women would all gather the sale papers and sit in the floor of the living room, circling and cutting ads before driving into Atlanta for the day. This year, Ward and her friend, Crystal Yates, are the ones circling the ads and plotting their moves.
Facing the crowds is more fun with a friend, Ward said, saying, "It's just fun to get out and have a girl's day."
The majority of her Black Friday shopping is for Christmas presents for her three children so Ward said she'll hit Walmart for toys first thing. She and Yates planed to begin shopping around 3 a.m. today. After Walmart, the two may stop at Hobby Lobby before heading to Tupelo.
Miller, who said she prefers to shop alone, will stay local on Black Friday.
"I take no one," she said. "Nobody but me. Nobody shops like I shop. I'm a digger. If I'm looking for something in particular, I might got to nine stores...I'm a big believer in you can find everything in your own hometown. I prefer family owned over shopping at the big box stores."
While she shops alone, the entire experience is very social, Miller said.
"I do it for social reasons," she said. "You see everybody. I like the hustle and bustle and the frenzy of it all. That, 'Gotta get it, gotta have that, I'm going to get it.' It's the thrill of the hunt."
Not all local shoppers are itching to get to the sales, however. Leah Brackin, who describes herself as an avid shopper, said she prefers the comfort of her pillow to the frenzy of the crowds after she had a "traumatic" experience several Black Friday's ago.
Brackin and her husband, David, went to Walmart in Columbus around midnight to purchase a Power Wheels Jeep for their son, Lawson. Once inside the store, the line to the toy department nearly reached the store's entrance.
"We get there and it's like, 'Brace yourself,'" she said.
David Brackin had another item he wanted to purchase in the store so the two decided to "divide and conquer."
Leah got a shopping cart and got in line for the toy. In the packed line, her cart accidentally bumped the back of the legs of the woman in front of her. Brackin said she immediately apologized to the woman but the woman turned around and began to curse and yell.
"I thought she was going to physically assault me," Brackin said. Then, a man standing behind Brackin jumped to her defense and began yelling at the other woman.
"I thought they were going to jump over my buggy and go at it," she said.
Brackin got out of line, found her husband and the two left the store. She hasn't ventured out on Black Friday since.
"I'm not that kind of shopper, I'm not that kind of person that's going to fight and curse people to save a buck," she said. "I would rather sleep in."
Ward said the hustle and bustle can be intense but, like Miller, she enjoys the socializing aspect.
"The crowds don't really bother me," she said. "Waiting in the long lines, there's always people in the line I can talk to. I don't mind it at all."
For those that have never been shopping on Black Friday, Ward had a word of advice: Take a friend.
"It is very overwhelming if you don't know where to go or when to do things," she said. "You'll miss out on a lot of sales if you don't."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.