By Katie Dahlstrom and Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writers
Crowds of shoppers shoveled down Thanksgiving dinner early to snag a spot and get guaranteed big deals.
Wal-Mart and Target started their sales at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday, luring crowds in to take advantage of big door-buster deals. Shoppers continued bargain hunting through the night, arriving at stores that opened in the early morning hours.
While some thrift seekers got in line as early as 2 p.m. Thursday, many were none to thrilled about the earlier sale times and felt that it cast a dark shadow over the celebratory holiday.
“I’d much rather do 5 a.m. on Friday,” Todd Manon of Albany, Ill., said, who got in line at Target at 4:15 p.m. Thursday. “It’s starting to take over Thanksgiving.”
Despite the reluctance to rush holiday plans, many lined up around 5:30 p.m or earlier at Target. A significant line began to form around 7:30 p.m. and meandered around the side of the building and around the back around 8:30 p.m. and multiplied until the store opened its doors. Once inside, the true test of endurance and patience occurred as shoppers fought for deals and proceeded to the never-ending check-out line.
The influx of customers rushing through the store in hopes of snatching a good deal compelled staff to bulk security in new ways — hiring Clinton police officers.
“This is the first time it’s been done on this scale, with officers assisting with crowd control inside the store,” Clinton Police Sgt. Steven Kopp said.
The officers were hired by some of the stores on Clinton’s west end including Wal-Mart and Target from 8 p.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday in order to protect employees, customers and the deeply discounted merchandise that drew the large crowds.
According to Kopp, no arrestable incidents were reported during the busy night.
Down the street at Paul’s Discount Store, doors opened at 5 a.m. to a rush of customers. From the time the store opened until 9 a.m. customers were given a golden dollar for every $10. The store also offered enticing giveaways from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., such as tablets and TVs.
“Black Friday’s going just fine,” store manager Don McKinley said. “We’re as busy as we expected.”
McKinley said the crowd looked like it was thinning out around 11:30 a.m., but stayed steady with customers seeking low priced Christmas decorations, tools and other hot items.
The local Sears store opened at 4 a.m. Friday instead of the 8 p.m. Thursday opening that the chain had advertised.
“We wanted to let our customers enjoy Thanksgiving,” Store Manager Darrick Bickford said.
Appliances, televisions and tools were flying out the door during the early hours Friday morning.
“We were busier than last year,” Bickford said. “I think more people are aware that we are here and we have more of a reputation in the area.”