By Merrick Eagleton
STILLWATER, Okla. —
With stores opening earlier for “Gray Thursday” shopping, the crowded parking lots and long lines that usually come with holiday shopping didn’t occur at midnight this year. However, some shoppers found the good deals were taken early.
Sisters Holly Chandler and Amy Heppel have gone Black Friday shopping with their mom for the past five years as part of their family tradition. They visited stores such as Old Navy, Ulta and Belk. Chandler said they were reluctant to come this year but were surprised at the small turnout of people.
“This isn’t as bad as it normally is,” Chandler said. “I actually think it was better to come tonight than probably tomorrow.”
Brian and Lacey Epperson, of Ponca City, took part in this year’s trend of Gray Thursday. They got a jump start on their Christmas gift shopping as soon as Thanksgiving dinner ended. They started at 6 p.m. at Wal-Mart and came to Stillwater when they ran out of places to shop in Ponca City.
The Eppersons were searching for children’s clothes and toys for Christmas. Brian said they plan to stay out shopping for as long as it takes.
“It depends on how much stuff we find,” Brian said.
The Eppersons were looking for certain deals but found some things had been sold out early.
“We saw the Kindles on sale at Best Buy so we came down to look for them and they were out,” Brian said.
Other shoppers, such as Chare and Kumarr Senavirathna, came out for a specific deal, too. The Senavirathnas were looking for a deal on a laptop and external hard drive at Best Buy. After a positive Black Friday experience last year, they decided to try their luck again. Chare said Best Buy was the only place they had searched.
Best Buy opened at 6 p.m. Thursday for early holiday shoppers. Mason Strom, a Best Buy employee, worked the Black Friday shift. Best Buy offered two rounds of door busters.
The first set of deals began at 6 p.m. when the store opened and then again at midnight. Strom said most of the crowd of shoppers showed up for the first round of savings.
“There weren’t as many at midnight,” Strom said. “The full ad that had been pre-advertised was for all the 6 o’clock ones.”
He estimated 200-300 people lined up outside the doors waiting for Best Buy to open.
“We let in, I think, 15 at a time, in little sections that came every 20 seconds, and then we just kept loading everyone up,” Strom said.