Early shopping primes stores for today's deals in Chattanooga area

Early shopping primes stores for today's deals in Chattanooga area

November 23rd, 2012 by Todd South in Local Regional News

Kmart shopper Stacy Deabler, center, checks out with cashier Alysha Kerns at the Highway 153 store. Kmart was open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. It reopened at 8 p.m.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press.

POLL: Did you go shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

Apparently area shoppers can handle an extra day of holiday shopping.

Hixson Kmart store manager Jeff Howard said a line of customers stretched along the side of his building when doors opened at 6 a.m. Thursday.

"It's been outstanding," the 36-year company employee said.

The manager said that by midday sales where 70 percent higher than last year.

Early Thursday afternoon while the Houston Texans football team was beating the Detroit Lions, some local families were carving up their turkeys while others took to the mostly empty streets and parking lots to catch some early sales.

"This is more convenient for me," said Alma Henderson, who had just left the Kmart.

She'd planned for a Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday because family members had the turkey day scheduled with other relatives.

Shoppers strolled up and down the aisles of decorations, cereal, clothes and other products to the tunes of "Ava Maria" and "Winter Wonderland" as store employees rang up purchases to fill carts and checked sales prices on items at the store's service desk.

Picking out Christmas lights and other decorations in Kmart, Diana Milsaps walked with her 19-year-old daughter Jasmine.

"It's nice it's not so crowded," the teen said.

Neither had ever braved the notorious early morning Black Friday shopping lines, but Jasmine will find out about the crowds today when she reports to work at 4 a.m. in Hamilton Place mall.

Across the lot, store parking lots sat empty, Lowe's and other nearby locations were closed.

Kmart closed for four hours Thursday afternoon to put out new sale items and reopen in the evening, with another two-hour closure at 3 a.m. to put more merchandise on the floor for a reopening at 5 a.m., Howard said.

Later Thursday night across the county at the Gunbarrel Road Walmart there were no lines outside before the 8 p.m. "opening" but hundreds of shoppers clogged aisles indoors, clustered around plastic-wrapped specialty items.

In less than three minutes a pack of customers tore apart a $25 video game stand with popular titles such as "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3."

With two cartloads of cookware and kitchen items, sisters Shaina and Cheyenne White exited the superstore, unloaded their merchandise and walked across the parking lot to rue21, a clothing store open late for the holiday.

Cheyenne said the open hours at Walmart feel safer than the outside lines allowed to rush into a store.

"Until they cut the plastic," she laughed.

Certain items such as flatscreen TVs were sealed until 10 p.m. Many shoppers had waited near their desired goods since 5 p.m.

The sisters had planned a full night and were headed to Old Navy for the store's midnight opening.