Shoppers’ Black Friday strategies were all over the map.
Night owls began their prowl early — on Thanksgiving Day, bunking overnight in parking lots and malls, for stores that opened in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Early risers got up before 3 a.m. to take their place in some of those same early-morning lines. Others took a more leisurely tack and didn’t visit local stores until about 7 a.m. or, gasp, 10 a.m. or later.
Still others started their shopping spree on Thanksgiving and never stopped.
'We get a little delirious'
Sisters Jennifer Schrader and Ronda Allen, both of Omaha, pulled an all-nighter, beginning their gift trek about 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Twelve hours later, nearing 8 a.m. Friday, they were looking through a stack of women’s T-shirts at the Walmart at 12850 L St. in Omaha, after stopping at more than a half-dozen stores.
Their only break?
“We stopped for breakfast at Village Inn,” Schrader said.
They planned to scoot home for a nap, then hit the stores again Friday afternoon.
“We’ve been doing this for years,” Schrader said of their 12-plus-hour shopping spree.
“The adrenaline rush” of finding good deals “keeps us going,” said Schrader, who estimated she had spent about $400 so far.
“My feet are tired,” Allen said.
The best deal of the night and day?
“We found a great price on men’s heavy-duty jackets,” Schrader said. But asked where she got the great deal, she hesitated.
“Ronda, was that Target where we found the jackets? Or was it Penney’s? Kohl’s? No, Younkers. Was it Younkers?” Schrader asked her sister. “Younkers,” Allen confirmed.
“We get a little delirious,” Schrader said with a laugh.
'Girls trip' No. 17
Lori Boulware, Traci Kollbaum and Jan Bennett left Elk Point, South Dakota, in their white Chevy Suburban at 3 a.m. Friday.
By 6:15 a.m. they were wheeling a shopping cart full of electronics in a checkout lane at Nebraska Furniture Mart.
Kollbaum figured this is the 17th year for the “girls trip” — she is Bennett’s daughter and Boulware’s sister-in-law — on Black Friday to Omaha’s stores.
“We’re very organized,” Kollbaum said.
Scheels, which opens at 7 a.m., was the next stop, looking for a Patagonia vest for a niece in Boston, among other things. Then the outlet mall at Gretna, stopping at Steve Madden, Coach and other stores.
Then dinner, then the drive back home.
The Mart cart had four sound bars (they had to leave one at the checkout stand because there was a limit of one per customer), two throwback Atari video game sets, two virtual reality head sets and other goodies.
Bennett spent $208. Kollbaum $49. Boulware $69. Total: $326, about what they had planned, except the Atari sets were a spur-of-the-moment decision, something to take home to “the guys” at home watching football.
'Every customer gets some great buys'
The South Dakotans were actually latecomers.
Kavya Sampelli arrived at the door of the Mart’s electronics store at 2 p.m. Thursday and waited all night with her two friends — from childhood through graduate school — taking turns napping in their car.
They each had vouchers entitling them to buy Apple Watches, one gold, one black and one white, for $99, well below the regular price of $279.
Russ Schwarz, sales manager for the store, said vouchers for the store’s supply of 100 Apple Watches went quickly, as did the vouchers for the wireless headphones, the other “doorbuster” advertised by the Mart.
“This sets the tone for the whole shopping season,” Schwarz said. “I think we do a good job of making sure every customer gets some great buys.”
The Mart stuck with its Thursday closing schedule, although many stores opened on Thanksgiving Day.
On the furniture side of the Mart’s retail campus, Rames Bonba was first in line, followed soon after by Willie Brown. Both were looking for sofas, which were marked down about 50 percent.
“If there’s only one, I’m giving it to him,” Bonba said. The two shared a laugh.
Just behind them were Matt Kraft and Natalie Connell, who are due to be married next month, and Matt’s mother, Michelle.
They started shopping at 7 p.m. Thursday, stopping at Best Buy, Target, Kohl’s, Walmart and other stores.
The soon-to-be-wed couple are outfitting their apartment in Lincoln and already purchased a TV set. At the Mart, they wanted an entertainment center and a sofa.
Once inside the store, they quickly found the gray sofa they wanted, marked down from $600 to $400.
Back in the electronics/appliances store, Mart CEO Irv Blumkin dashed off to find a shopping cart for Hanna Olson, who was loaded down with boxes and headed for the checkout lane.
For vinyl lovers, Friday was one of the best days of the year.
Record Store Day’s annual Black Friday event featured hundreds of exclusive vinyl releases at independent record stores, and people lined up hours early to get their favorite stuff.
Lines formed early at Homer’s and Drastic Plastic Underground in the Old Market. Jennifer Hufford and Sid Mitzlaff arrived at 5 a.m. It was chilly, but they stayed warm under coats, hats and a blanket. They were after releases from the Vandals, “Sesame Street” and “Barbarella,” among others.
About 30 people were lined up at Homer’s when the door opened at 10 a.m., and still more stood down the street at Drastic Plastic.
Holiday shopping means extra hours for store staffers as well as shoppers.
'Everything's on sale'
Melissa Keating, jewelry supervisor for the Kohl’s store near 72nd and Jones Streets, was most of the way through her 12-hour shift, 9 p.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday.
When the store opened at 6 p.m. Thursday, checkout lines quickly snaked from one end of the store to the other.
Kohl’s bargains included diamond earrings in sterling silver settings, regular $105, for $19.99.
“Everything’s on sale,” Keating said.
Kohl’s brought in Blimpie’s sandwiches for the night crew, and breakfast casseroles were due to arrive at 8 a.m. The store would close at midnight Friday, 30 hours after it opened.
Shoppers who opted to stay home on Thanksgiving and head to the stores at a reasonable hour on Black Friday were often greeted by calm, especially at those that had opened Thanksgiving Day and remained open through Friday.
Target, Walmart and Gordmans were among the stores that offered round-the-clock deals beginning on Thanksgiving through Friday.
Shoppers who stopped into the Target store at 12500 K Plaza around 7 a.m. Friday found that parking spots were plentiful, and inside, aisles were easy to navigate, the opposite of 12 hours earlier. Thursday, the store bustled with shoppers who streamed in when the doors opened at 6 p.m.
Samantha Heacock, a store employee, was leaving at about 7:30 a.m. Friday after a shift that began Thursday at 11 p.m.
“It was busy the whole night until about 3 a.m.,” said Heacock, sipping a Mountain Dew. But the lull was short. By 5 a.m. “it got busy again,” she said.
“We just want to keep Thanksgiving Thanksgiving'
Many Black Friday shoppers said they resisted the urge to hit the stores on Thanksgiving Day.
Terri Lambe of Lincoln was shopping at Target with her daughters, Mandy Hakenkamp and Ali Shields, about 7 a.m. Friday.
Lambe said she and other family members made it a point to stay home for the holiday.
“We just want to keep Thanksgiving Thanksgiving,” Lambe said.
Shields carried her 3-month-old son, Kai.
“It’s his first Black Friday,” Shields said. Her mother and sister helped her balance the baby and push a cart through Target filled with toys and children’s clothing.
“At this time of day it’s quiet. It’s not crowded; it’s not a madhouse,” Lambe said.
Other shoppers, balancing paper cups filled with their morning coffee, stopped into stores at the L Street Plaza to search for holiday gifts and, in some cases, pick up a little something for themselves.
“I’m getting a Nintendo for me,” said Cindy Mackey of Omaha. “I had time before work to stop in.”
At Westroads Mall on Friday morning, Heidi Sporrer caught a breather outside of the Bath and Body Works store. By about 10 a.m., Sporrer and her 13- and 15-year-old daughters already had about six hours’ worth of shopping behind them.
The trio began the Black Friday ritual at Target at 4 a.m. and then went to Scheels.
Sure, it makes for a long day, said Sporrer, who lives in Logan, Iowa.
But having a mother in the hospital during the holidays is an added motivation to keeping the post-Thanksgiving shopping tradition alive.
“I used to do this every year with my mom and sisters,” Sporrer said. “Two of my kids are now old enough to get up and do it with me, so we’re here.”
'Here mostly to hang around and act goofy'
Meanwhile, Denver residents Troy Fey and 15-year-old daughter Morgan were busy starting their own holiday tradition.
Fey, a Millard native, said he felt obliged to take his daughter to Shopko at 7 a.m. to get the day started with his mother and brother.
“I used to always go and (Morgan) had never been to one because we don’t have them in Denver,” Troy Fey said.
Their visit was not fruitless: The father-daughter duo emerged bedecked in complementary Christmas sweaters that prominently featured llamas. They proudly showed them off during a break in shopping.
“We’re out here mostly to hang around and act goofy,” he said.
'We wanted to enjoy the holiday'
Turiko and Elainer Ferguson opted to sleep in and enjoy their morning. The Omaha couple strolled through the doors of the Gordmans store at 17202 Lakeside Hills Plaza on Friday about 9 a.m.
There were plenty of customers inside the store, but no blocked aisles, bumper-to-bumper carts or long checkout lines. Gordmans had opened at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
“We wanted to enjoy the holiday,” Turiko Ferguson said as he pushed a cart containing candy, stocking stuffers and a sweater. “It’s calmer,” Elainer Ferguson added.
Shari Prophit of Omaha and her mother-in-law, Linda Prophit, visiting from Houston, agreed: 9 o’clock was a civilized hour to cross the store’s threshold and avoid any stampede.
“It’s not crazy,” Shari Prophit said. Experience was her guide. “Years ago, I went out early, early on Black Friday — the stores were nuts — and I vowed never to do it again,” she said.
Gordmans, which opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, remained open through Black Friday. More than 100 people were in line outside the store when it opened, said Lori Long, store manager. “It was busy all night.” Traffic slowed about 1 a.m. then picked up again at 5 a.m., Long said Friday.
Jennie Dunham of Omaha and her daughter, Kailyn Dunham, 13, were perusing the toy shelves at Gordmans.
“We didn’t get started this morning until 8:30,” Jennie Dunham said. “It’s nice, there’s not so many people around. It’s quiet and very calm.” Dunham was hunting for toys and clothing for her two other children, ages 9 and 6.
Emily Simpson and her mother, Bobbie Simpson, of Gretna said they decided to “take it easy” this year and arrived at Gordmans at about 9:30 a.m., their first stop of the day.
Seventeen-year-old Emily Simpson’s T-shirt seemed to sum up their approach to holiday shopping. In bold white letters, it read: “Born to Sleep.”
World-Herald staff writer Kevin Coffey contributed to this report.