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Shopping warriors face thinner crowds over two-day spree

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Brittany Sutton laughs in the cold as she waits first in line at Best Buy for Black Friday shopping Nov. 24, 2017.


Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Friday, November 24, 2017

Shorter lines at most retail stores for Black Friday did not trouble Greenville shoppers or store managers, who spread the wealth of doorbuster deals over two days this Thanksgiving week. 

Target, located in the University Commons center on Evans Street, and Best Buy, also located on Evans just across Greenville Boulevard, began their busiest shopping weekend of the year on Thursday, after most of the turkey was consumed. They provided new specials for shoppers who waited outside for their respective 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday reopenings. 

Dawn Rossi and her daughter, Madison Etheridge, came from Wilson to shop on Black Friday. Their day began at 3:30 to assure themselves of being the first customers welcomed inside when the Ulta Beauty supply and salon opened at 6 a.m. But there were no other shoppers in the parking lot when they arrived.

“It has a lot to do with Black Friday starting on Thursday now,” Rossi said. “We would never do that. though. We enjoy our family and our togetherness. I’m not going to stop that tradition just to shop. But we still get the thrill of having our toes, hands and faces frozen.”

For Etheridge, 16, who has her sights set on becoming a professional makeup artist, Ulta had to be the first stop on the daylong excursion. 

“It has more selections than ever before,” she said. “You can get hair and makeup products and they have a lot of steals.”

Rossi joked that therapists also are open on Black Friday, with special deals just for mothers who wonder why they get up in the dark after putting together Thanksgiving banquets in order to take their daughters’ shopping.

The dynamic shopping duo planned their outing carefully, deciding to hit most of their favorite spots in Lynncroft, including Bed, Bath & Beyond and Best Buy, before heading to the Greenville mall shopping zone.

“We’ll hit some mom stores, but mostly Madison’s Christmas list stores,” Rossi said.

While most of her Etheridge’s friends in Wilson decided to shop in Raleigh, she and her mother chose Greenville.

“Greenville beats Raleigh for shopping on Black Friday,” Rossi said. “Raleigh is just too much, with all the people and traffic. Plus, with all the dangers in the world right now, I don’t want to be where it’s too crowded. As a parent, I’ve got to think about that. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have thought about that, but now it’s in the back of my mind every day.”

Across the shopping plaza, Brittany Sutton stood first in line outside Best Buy. Although they had already braved Thursday’s rush at Best Buy, they made a strategic decision to return at about 4:30 a.m. next day to secure the inside lane to the television section. 

“The TV was our priority, so we came here first, but after this, I’m headed back to Target for toys,” Brittany Sutton said. “It was crazy there yesterday. I’m about ‘in and out’ today. I’m a warrior.”

Target assistant manager Craig Bissette said Target adopted a new strategy this year.

“Usually we stay open all night Thursday into Friday, but closing at midnight allowed us to reset the store and allowed more staff to stay home and enjoy the holiday a little more,” Bissette said. “We’re seeing an uptick in sales this year so far.”

Taget’s hot items this year are a new reality baby doll and new Amazon electronic products, the manager said.

Mandi Ragland of Greenville was all smiles in the trenches at 6 a.m. with her children, Kathryn, 16, and Caedmon, 17. She did most of her big ticket shopping online, but still comes out for the Black Friday experience.

“It’s a family tradition,” Mandi said. “I’ve come every year since I was their age and came with my dad. We shop some, get breakfast and shop some more. It’s fun, but it’s different since they moved to Thursdays. We don’t give up our Thanksgiving family time for shopping, though.”

Kathryn Ragland said she enjoys shopping with her mother on Black Friday.

“She acts crazy in the morning,” she said. “Last year we walked around the parking lot for an hour because she thought she lost her credit card.”

Most of the shoppers surveyed had toys and electronics at the top of their lists this year, but all agreed that the prices determine the destinations.

“I stalk the ads and check out the Web prices,” Mandi Ragland said. “It’s still about comparison shopping.”

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9507.