• Black Friday shoppers out early this year
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     | November 24,2012
     
    AP PHOTO

    A crowd gathers as security guards break up a fight between shoppers waiting in line just as the doors open for Black Friday shopping at Target on Thursday night in Bowling Green, Ky.

    This season appears to mark the end of Black Friday as we know it.

    For decades, stores have opened their doors in wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. But this year, that changed when major chains from Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving itself, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair.

    That means that shoppers who wanted to fall into a turkey-induced slumber could still head out to stores early on Black Friday. Others could head straight from the dinner table to stores on Turkey Day. And stores were able to attract both groups by offering door buster sales from $179 40-inch flat-screen TVs to $10 jeans at different times of the day.

    Sam Chandler, 55, and his wife, Lori Chandler, 54, were a part of the early group. By the time they reached the Walmart in Greenville, S.C. early Friday, they had already hit several stores, including Target and Best Buy. In fact, they had been shopping since midnight.

    “We’ve learned over the years, you have to stand in line early and pray,” Sam said.

    Stu and April Schatz, residents of Rockland County, N.Y., preferred to get a later start. They went to the Shops at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, N.J., which didn’t open until 7 a.m. on Black Friday, because they didn’t want to deal with the crowds that show up for openings late night on Thanksgiving or midnight on Black Friday.

    “It’s so much more civilized going in the morning,” said April Schatz, a teacher. “We wanted to enjoy our evening.”

    About 11,000 shoppers were in lines wrapped around Macy’s flagship store in New York City’s Herald Square when it opened at midnight on Thursday. That’s up from an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 shoppers who showed up the store’s midnight opening last year.

    Joan Riedewald, a private aide for the elderly, and her four children ages six to 18, were among them. By that time, she already had spent about $100 at Toys R Us, which opened at 8 p.m., and planned to spend another $500 at Macy’s before heading to Old Navy.

    “I only shop for sales,” she said.

    Joe Russell was hunting for a great deal on a large flat-screen TV and went to the Best Buy store in Watertown, Mass., shortly after midnight on Friday. But the long line of shoppers gunning for door-buster promotions deterred him from braving the freezing temperatures. So Russell, 47, returned to the store after sunrise and got a different TV for “a decent price.”

    “This is the earliest I’ve ever shopped,” he said.

    Elizabeth Garcia, a sales representative from the Bronx borough of New York City, also decided on a later shopping start at about 3:30 a.m. at Toys R Us in New York’s Times Square.

    As a result Garcia, who has three children ages three, five and seven, believes she dodged some of the lines on Thanksgiving when the store opened at 8 p.m.

    That’s good news since the crowds got to her last year, and she almost got into a fight over a Tinker Bell couch.

    “This year I wasn’t about to kill people,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Nicole Page of Bristol, Conn., shopped with her sister at a Walmart in Manchester, Conn., at about 4:45 a.m. on Black Friday out of tradition. Page, who recently finished school and started working as a nurse, bought an electric fireplace for $200 that she said was originally $600. Her shopping cart also had candy canes, a nail clipper for her dog and other stocking stuffers.

    “We try to make a tradition of it. It’s kind of exciting,” she said.

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