Black Friday shoppers start early, stay late looking for deals and distractions

The women in Claudia Pace’s family don’t care what the stock market is doing, whether the U.S.-China trade war intensifies or if wages have stagnated. A few hours after they push back from the Thanksgiving table, they’re going shopping.

“Every year,” said Pace, who lives in Harnett County and was picking out cookie-cutters in a Michael’s store in Cary Thursday night before her dinner had been digested. “We’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. We don’t miss a year.”

Claudia Pace traveled with the women in her family from Harnett County to Cary for Black Friday shopping. They wore matching t-shirts. Martha Quillin

Sometimes, Pace said, she, her sister, her niece, her daughter and two granddaughters rent a hotel room and do their Black Friday shopping out of town. Before Pace’s mother died, Pace said, she went too. This year, they’re all wearing matching red T-shirts that say, “Gather, gobble, wobble. Shop ‘til you drop.”

“Sometimes we stay out all night,” Pace said.

Whether they were celebrating family bonds, fighting holiday boredom or looking for bargains, shoppers were out Thursday night and again Friday as retailers welcomed them for Black Friday.

What used to be the day-after-Thanksgiving bonanza has turned into several days of special-price shopping, with retailers offering online and in-store deals from a few days before to the weekend after turkey day. Many brick-and-mortar stores now open on Thanksgiving night, while others turn on the lights early Friday morning.

Turnout was heavy Thursday night and again Friday at Raleigh’s Crabtree Valley Mall. More than half the mall’s 200 or so stores were open from 6 p.m. to midnight Thursday, and a handful stayed open until 2 a.m. The mall reopened Friday at 6 a.m.

Old Navy in Cary opened at 3 p.m. Thursday and stayed open all night, drawing customers looking for $25 down coats, $10 pajamas and other snuggly items.

General Manager Shaun Cosby, who has worked for the chain for 18 years, said he has no trouble finding the 70 employees it takes to staff the store through Black Friday, keeping the clothes neatly stacked and the checkout line moving.

“They volunteer,” he said.

Big-box stores such as Target, Walmart and Best Buy were popular Thursday night and Friday.

Kasi Kadell of Vass hit the stores in Moore County with her sister Thursday night and came to Wake County on Friday. Lines were long Thursday night, she said, but by Friday morning, “It wasn’t too crazy.” She and her sister were at Walmart in Apex looking for children’s gifts, checking off popular items listed in the store’s flier.

Hayley Browning and Mark Webb said they slept in on Friday morning and waited until lunchtime to go to Big Lots in Cary to buy an artificial Christmas tree at a $30 discount. Then it was on to Target, which is one of Browning’s favorite stores even without Black Friday pricing.

The couple, who are in their 20s, said the excitement of going shopping on Black Friday may be a matter of generational preference. For them, online shopping is fun and easy, and with many retailers offering free shipping, they find little reason to go to the store and meet the crowds.