By Cory Smith and Elisabeth Waldon
GREENVILLE — Black Thursday is the new Black Friday.
Stores had a double opportunity to turn a profit for the holiday season this year, with many businesses opening on Thanksgiving Day, as well as on traditional Black Friday.
About 300 people were waiting in line both Thursday morning and Thursday evening at Kmart in Greenville, according to Store Manager Dave Bronkella. The store opened for special deals from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, reopened from 8 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday and then opened again at 5 a.m. Friday.
“We actually had a woman that camped out Wednesday afternoon,” Bronkella said. “She put up a tent on the sidewalk at 4 p.m. She left the tent up Thursday morning and came back Thursday afternoon and camped out until 8 p.m. when the store opened again.”
TVs proved to be the hot item at Kmart this year, with deals including a 24-inch TV for $88, a 32-inch TV for $97, a 42-inch TV for $199 and a 50-inch TV for $288. The store sold out of all featured TVs, but a voucher system ensured those who were in line early enough would eventually receive their prize.
“Everyone wanted the TVs,” Bronkella said. “The voucher system helped control the crowds and made sure no one got hurt. Safety first. Customers were very calm and collected. Everyone was very polite to each other.”
Electronic items in general sold well at Kmart, including DVD players, Android tablets, laptops and electronic learning toys.
“Both days were very successful,” Bronkella said. “The holiday season outlook looks very good.
“I’m glad they’re staying in Greenville,” he added of shoppers.
RadioShack employees were pleased to see about 20 people lined up when the Greenville store opened at 6 a.m. Friday.
“It’s critical for us,” said Assistant Manager Corey Petersen of RadioShack, which is a locally owned store. “Black Friday definitely sets the tone and having a Black Friday will make or break your holiday season. So far traffic’s been great.”
Hot items at RadioShack included a Garmin GPS for $99.99 (instead of $169.99) 32-gig flash drives for $10 (instead of $69.99) and DJ-style headphones for $10 (instead of $29.99). The Kindle Fire did well too at its regular price of $199.
Meijer Spokeswoman Christina Fecher said hot items at Meijer stores included an iPod touch for $295 (with a $50 gift card) and an Xbox for $199.99 (with a $40 gift card).
“Sales have been pretty strong and steady and we’ve had some feedback from customers who appreciated the flexibility of all the different sales Thursday and Friday,” Fecher said. “Overall it’s been a great day. We’re optimistic that customers are going to continue to shop strong throughout the holiday season.”
Greenville resident Julie Terry said she has been shopping on Black Friday every year since she can remember. She took advantage of sales throughout town, shopping at several different local stores.
“I came out today to shop out of tradition,” she said. “I’ve been shopping on Black Friday since my teenage years.”
Terry says she doesn’t even look at advertisements to see what’s on sale because she already has a routine of stores to shop at each year.
“I always hit J.C. Penney’s for the clothes and I always hit Sears for the tools,” she said. “I’ll be heading to Meijer next to buy some home goods items.”
For Terry, Black Friday isn’t just about the deals. She has fun traveling to the different stores and being part of the experience with so many other shoppers.
“It’s nice seeing the people out and about,” she said. “I enjoy watching people shop and being a part of it, it’s fun.”